January

Highlights of the month:

  • Rang in the new year on the couch with GG, my BIL, and his girlfriend.
  • Have been very angry at the new coffee makers they put in our kitchens at work (supposedly an “improvement,” but coffee mugs don’t fit in them, and if you’re a tea drinker like me, just getting hot water is a pain).
  • Maybe that doesn’t matter since I never made it to work for a full day all month – thanks, endless snowstorms!
  • I finally used the cart escalator at our new Target! (I am probably there an average of once a week, but maybe that’s the problem: I never got enough in one trip that I needed to use a cart.)
  • Made our annual trip to the Pennsylvania Farm Show with L and S. We’re old pros at this now, and know the areas to focus on, e.g. the food hall (for that early morning milkshake before the lines get too long), wine tasting booths, and the aisles of food vendors. We also learned a lot of about nuts and tree grafting, and bought a ton of stuff. (Blind Spot Nut Butters are fabulous, try the Sea Salt Caramel!)
  • Had a terrible experience with Ideel.com and cannot dis-recommend them enough! Why would you let me buy something you don’t actually have? And then not tell me when the order couldn’t go through? And then let me buy it again? And then tell me it was shipping soon when you were never even going to have the item? Oh well, it probably wouldn’t have fit me, anyway. But I will never be shopping there again.
  • After a long time on my wish list, I finally bought a spiralizer. Love it! I’ve been spiralizing everything.
  • Went to the Philadelphia Home Show and saw Josh and Brent, the Beekman Boys! GG even ended up really liking the talk they gave on what they’ve learned about life from raising their goats. (Also, in person, they are exactly like they were on their show.)
  • After three years, Ivan finally figured out how to get into the basket under my office window! Now Sacha has some competition for his favorite sleeping spot.
  • Celebrated the official launch of my second side business I’ve been working since August!
  • My Christmas gift from GG was a gift card to one of our favorite restaurants. What I didn’t know was that he made plans for a limo to drive us there and home! (And while I kind of wish I had known in advance that our plans were set in stone, it was super sweet of him and really fun!)

December

  • I helped organize an Ugly Sweater / Second Annual Cookie Bake-Off party at work – it was a success! My rosemary butter cookies came in a respectable second place (that new Kitchenaid mixer helped!); one relatively new colleague went all out with super cute cookies and the only ugly sweater of the day; and I played Fay’s 12 Days of Christmas on a loop for background ambiance.
  • I got a cute haircut that has gotten me more compliments than any other haircut I’ve gotten as an adult. And you know I usually do one big chop once a year and then let it grow, so it’s not like people haven’t seen me with shorter hair before, but I’m really getting a lot of feedback about this one.
  • Did a couple more vendor events for my second side biz. I’m glad I was able to get the name out there, but boy do I hate doing these shows! So glad “vendor season” is over for me!
  • Did my minimal Christmas decorating, which actually seems to grow slightly each year. I am now up to: small tree (with ornaments), a couple doo-dads sitting in the living room, ornaments in dining room centerpiece, holiday towels and soap in powder room.
  • We hosted our second annual holiday party for our friends. Remember last year when I surprised GG by hiring a clown? This year I got The Grinch!! It was also our second annual Battle of the Dips; winners included pumpkin dip, hoagie dip, and salmon dip. The winners received weird sex shop novelties as their prizes! Next year’s party is going to have a lot to live up to…
  • We saw John Mulaney at the Troc (with opening act Seaton Smith)! As usual, I was pretty much in tears by the end of his set. Fabulous. Also, we found a new place near the theater for dinner, GG is kind of obsessed with it now…
  • Took a day off with MB and A to do all the most Christmassy stuff in Philadelphia: Comcast show, Macy’s show, Love Park Christmas village, lunch at DiBruno Brothers, a train ride there and back, and of course a gift exchange :o)
  • Went to a live nativity/Christmas Eve service at a friend’s church. I think she was super excited to recruit us for the church, but really I just wanted to see the animals on stage (and also they had a good band, which GG liked). It was nice, but we’re not going to be regular churchgoers anytime soon.
  • Celebrated Christmas first with my family, then with GG’s. For Christmas lunch at our place, we had a great spread, including a great pomegranite and lime sangria, perfect red and green for Christmas!
  • Took another trip into Philly during our week off to have lunch at Rosa Blanca and check out the Constitution Center (kind of on a whim).
  • My holiday break home improvement project this year: painted a bedroom a gorgeous turquoise/teal color. It’s really dramatic and I love it!

November

  • Went to a Halloween party with GG and some friends – we dressed as a cat and a ball of yarn! One of my other favorite couple costumes there was Miss Frizzle and the Magic School Bus!
  • Celebrated my BIL’s b-day with a decadent dinner at the Capital Grille.
  • Took Ivan back to the vet because he pulled his stitches open and kept licking his incision :o( So he got antibiotics, and ointment, and a cone! (But he hates the cone.)
  • My work BFF J had her breast cancer surgery and she is already doing amazing! She asked everyone to wear pink for her, so I organized a bunch of people at work to wear pink and take a group photo to send her.
  • Had a fun girls night out (first one in like 2 years)!
  • We had a house guest for a week, which was actually really nice.
  • Did some Socials and events for my second side biz! It’s definitely keeping me busy… Making lots of great connections, though!
  • Had a crazy Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws.
  • We saw Foxcatcher. It was mega creepy. Channing Tatum and especially Mark Ruffalo were great and really dead-on accurate.
  • Went to Friendsgiving at MB and A’s – now an annual tradition the Saturday after Thanksgiving :o)

September

  • Had my first real event for my second side business! …Did not go exactly the way I expected, but was good…
  • Then had my own combination side biz event/birthday party/house stuff reveal, which was great! Very good turnout, and I know everyone had a nice time :o) Also, potted mums are apparently peoples’ go-to gift for me…
  • …And had a ton more events for both of my side gigs! (One event had hula dancers performing at it!)
  • Went out for a really nice birthday dinner with GG at Wedge + Fig. I just found this place and I love it! We sat in their cute little courtyard and ate some fabulous food: cheese plate, bacon wrapped dates, salad, and a side of their famous mac & cheese (which you can also get in the form of a pie with a bacon-lattice top)! We were right next to the back window of the restaurant, looking into the kitchen, which was actually kind of cool because I love to watch chefs working. At one point this guy who’d been sitting near us came over and was asking what we thought of the food, etc. – turned out he was an owner!

August

  • We saw The Book of Mormon! When I heard it was coming to Philly, I suggested that we go – then my friend J told me she had tickets (they subscribe for the year), but correctly predicted that she would have just given birth before the date of the show, so I bought hers! It was a matinee show, so GG and I had brunch first at Garces Trading Company, then walked over to the theater. By a couple songs in, our mouths were hanging open in disbelief! We loved it! It was hilarious! And really, it was not mean-spirited toward Mormons or any other religion, it was just a sweet story. (I told J that if it came back to town, I would babysit so she and B could go.)
  • Saw Cynic in Philly! Disappointingly, Paul never stopped to talk about auras or do yoga on stage or anything…
  • GG and I had a really crazy Saturday where we spent the morning at this Pennhurst Asylum “open house” thing with a bunch of ghost hunters and ghost photographers. I don’t watch any of those ghost hunting shows, otherwise maybe I would’ve been more impressed with the special guests there. Pennhurst is generally closed to the public, so I guess it was a neat opportunity to see certain parts of it. But we left early to go to the Goshenhoppen Festival. My mom used to take me and my brother to this when we were kids. It was a little smaller than I remembered, but neat, and I think GG had a good, wholesome time :o)


  • We went to Shady Maple for GG’s birthday – my treat! (You get in free on your b-day…) It’s been a while since we’ve been there for a birthday, they now give you a birthday stack of coupons for their various shops. My favorite one was for the quilt store, it was for 20% off anything, excluding quilts. We also discovered that the Farm Market (really a supermarket) is amazing – almost worth driving out there just to do our grocery shopping!


  • I started a new business!!! I know I already have one side business but this was an amazing opportunity I could not pass up – joining from Day 1 with a new company is actually the sister of an established one (so they know what they’re doing as far as manufacturing, shipping, technology, etc. – it’s not just some lady in her basement going, “I’m going to sell some jewelry”). And most importantly, I love the product and what it’s about!
  • MB and A came to visit and we went to the zoo! I was last there when baby R was just a brand new baby, so it was fun seeing her there now that she’s a little girl!
  • Spending Labor Day weekend alone (as usual) but I have Every Simpsons Ever!

Conference 2015!

This year’s Conference was so much nicer than last year’s. I liked the way things were organized better, I was with a better group of people, and we were in a better city. I’m not even going to talk about the conference itself, because, whatever. The highlights of the trip for me took place outside of the events!

  • We drove from Philly to Columbus, OH with only one bathroom stop (and we only stopped because it was the last rest stop for like 60 miles, and I guess we figured better safe than sorry – I think a lot of other ladies on their way to Conference had the same idea).
  • I got to meet up with my friend K from elementary school – she is with the company too! I had dinner with her and her family (who were traveling with her to visit relatives) and some of my other friends at a neat spot near our hotel.
  • Major highlight!! I met my blog friend D for the first time ever, after 10+ years of online friendship! She was shorter than I expected, lol! It was awesome to see her, though, and of course we were just talking like old friends (which we are, so..).
  • The North Market in Columbus is awesome. It’s like a more manageable Reading Terminal Market. We had multiple meals there over the course of the week, since it’s across the street from the conference center.


  • My friend/roommate E and I had had a long day one day and never really got dinner. So we walked over to Dirty Frank’s, which was near our hotel. On the way there, we passed another woman from our conference (we could tell, because she had her badge still on). She said, “I shouldn’t be walking here by myself this late, could I just walk with you over to Dirty Frank’s?” and we were like, “We’re going to Dirty Frank’s, come eat with us!” So we ended up having a great time! Then the next morning, we were lining up early to get in to the next conference session, and guess who was in line next to us? Same lady, with her group of friends! We’re totally going to keep in touch, she was really lovely.
  • The last night we were in town, the OSU marching band was performing in a park near our hotel! It was a ticketed event, but I walked over and stood outside the gate with some fellow band nerds who were in town for Conference :o)
  • The entire city of Columbus really did “roll out the pink carpet,” everyone was happy to see us everywhere and it was just a really great experience!

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things, but those were the main highlights. We’re already planning our return trip next year! I hope next year I’m able to see more of some of the different areas of the town and try some other restaurants and stuff (it’s hard when you’re traveling with one very picky eater and one person who can’t eat much or walk far due to a medical condition).



June/July

This has been an extremely busy summer, due to some things that were going on personally, and some things going on at home. I actually apologized to the owner of my gym the last time I saw her – all my free time has been spent on these other projects, so I’ve been lucky to get there just once a week for yoga!

At work, I’m on this committee meant to plan team meetings, and provide engagement opportunities for the people in our department. (I call it the Party Planning Committee, but it’s actually more involved than that.) We had a quarterly all-site videoconference at the end of June, and someone had the idea that I should make a viral video to illustrate these virtual meeting best practices we’d come up with. Also, we wanted to do a potluck lunch on-site the same day, and guess who was in charge of organizing that? Well, both tasks went great! I wrote up a general script but had an amazing team of actors who really put their own spin on things and made the video hilarious! I took a couple days to edit it, and everyone loved it! Our potluck was also a really nice time, and everyone said it was one of the better “networking” activities we’ve done. And, with my friend JK about to go out on maternity leave, we threw a little baby shower for her, which was also a hit!

For the first time in a long time, I was free on the 4th of July, so J and R came out with their boys and checked out the little carnival my town had set up this year. We didn’t stay for the fireworks, but the weather was beautiful and I really just wanted some funnel cake. Plus it was nice to hang out with friends, and baby J is so cute! (A woman passing by as I held him said, “Oh he is such a little bubble!”)

GG and I had the opportunity to go to New York City for the day – then the opportunity didn’t work out, but we decided to go up anyway! I get free admission to a bunch of museums and stuff thanks to my employer, so we took the subway, walked through Central Park, spent a few hours at the Met Museum, and then got dinner at a place I found online, Cafe D’Alsace (surprisingly generous cheese portions!), before going back through the park, getting the subway back to the bus, the bus back to the car, and driving home. It was a little warm, but overall a really nice day.

Not content with one cheese board in a week, we took the train in to Philly a couple days later to use up the rest of the Tria gift card GG gave me for Christmas. This time we went to their Wash West location, and I think I like it more than the Rittenhouse one! It’s just as easy to get to from the train (maybe easier) and slightly larger and less cramped. Also they have a waiter who looks like Dave Navarro (?).

In the next couple weeks, a lot of the craziness should be over… until new craziness begins, I’m sure. But hopefully we’ll at least get to enjoy the end of our summer!

Anniversary AC Trip

I planned a surprise trip for our wedding anniversary. GG knew he was driving and had a general idea, but until we left he didn’t know 100% for sure to head to Atlantic City, and he didn’t know until we got there which hotel to head to. We were staying at our favorite casino, Revel. We’d been there before, but never to the hotel. It is awesome, very fancy-pants. (Which, for the price, it should be!)

Since I didn’t know for sure when we’d be getting there on Thursday night, I didn’t have anything planned for us. I later found out Rich Vos was performing that night, and actually after we checked in to the hotel and were heading to our room, we saw him walking toward us! We ended up riding the elevator with him, which was a really cool surprise. And that was all we got to see of him that night, because Revel does not sell off their unused tickets before the show. Oh well, their loss. Instead, we walked through the whole place, and got dinner at the Distrito taco cart. (Still need to go to the real Distrito in Philly – those tacos were amazing!) We also went to the Village Whiskey bar, where we got a drink and enjoyed the live band that was playing.

Friday was our anniversary, and the day I did actually have plans for us: we were getting a couples massage at Exhale Spa in Revel! I am a relative spa newbie, and GG has never been to a spa or had a massage before, but I’m afraid now we’re spoiled! They really took care of everything as far as payment right when you checked in, so I didn’t even have to worry about it later, after I was relaxed. They suggested we arrive 20-30 minutes early, but I now realize we could have gotten there much earlier and enjoyed some of the amenities before our massages. We split up to be taken to our respective locker rooms. Each of us received a tour, and it sounds like they mentioned different amenities to each of us, when we compared notes later. The place is huge and a bit maze-like, but even with my horrible sense of direction I was able to find my way around. We met up again in the co-ed lounge, where we chilled out with tea and snacks until our masseuses came to retrieve us and bring us back to the room. After discussing the massage, aromatherapy options, and any trouble areas with each of us individually, they left for us to take off our plush robes and get into the heated beds. The beds were kind of awesome, as different areas adjusted for different parts of the massage.

After this point, the room was dark and my eyes were closed, so I don’t know if we each got the exact same treatment, but I can confirm that my masseuse was awesome, and GG’s also seemed to do a great job. I could tell because he periodically stopped chattering and just relaxed :o) There are intentionally no clocks around, so I don’t know exactly how long the treatment was, but it was long enough, and when I did get to a clock later, I was surprised to see it was later than I’d expected. The treatment started with a face and scalp massage, followed by a heated face mask; went on to neck, shoulders, and arms; then legs; then I rolled over and she massaged and stretched my legs and feet before wrapping my feet in heated towels; and then of course my back.

They gave us a few minutes to get ourselves together before walking us back to the lounge and making sure we got a drink of water. Then we showered off in the well-stocked locker rooms, before meeting up at the co-ed mineral pool area. We tried the salt room, which might have been relaxing to sit in if we had a book or something to read. Then we hopped into the pool and hot tub, which was nice because again, there was really nobody else around, and the room is beautiful. You actually have access to the facilities to come and go as much as you like all day, but we ended up not being able to make it back in the evening. Overall, it was a fabulous experience. GG went from being vehemently anti-massage, to saying that if I ever wanted another couples massage, he wouldn’t say no :o)

After getting cleaned up back in our room, we went for a light lunch at Yuboka, the dim sum place. We were told that they had some kind of award-winning wings, so that’s what GG got, and I had the dumplings. We walked around outside and checked out all the pools, and even – gasp – left the casino and walked down the boardwalk a bit to a very creepy souvenir shop that sold things like food and computer equipment from the 1990s… This was all just killing time before our 6PM dinner reservation (6:00 on 6/6, get it?!) at Amada, our favorite restaurant!

We had an awesome waiter taking care of us (and another one who stepped in to give GG a spoon to fish the fruit bits out of the bottom of his sangria glass!) Of course we had the cheese plate, and the bacon-wrapped dates. I got the green salad and the asparagus. GG had some prawns and something else. We had some sort of marinated beans. And then they brought out a little piece of olive oil cake for us, with a candle and “Happy Anniversary!” written on the plate! We hung out a little more after dinner, but after such a long day and all that relaxing, I just wanted to go to bed!

We were able to sleep in a little on Saturday, before packing up, grabbing some breakfast, and heading home. It was nice to still have the whole weekend ahead of us when we got back!

March

March started out with a short business trip to CT for a few days. I drove up and back with two of my good friends and coworkers, which was a lot of fun. We were there for our annual all-hands departmental meeting, and it was the most fun one of these we’ve ever had. As of last year, we have an “engagement team” and they organized the meeting and other activities, and everyone seemed to have a really good time. And of course, it was great to see a lot of my coworkers who I don’t often get to see in person.

We got home just in time for our learning event to start, so I was busy for a couple weeks helping out with that. Our contractor C was in town for the first week, so I was out to dinner with her most evenings. And she’s getting married this summer, so we decided to throw her a little wedding shower while she was in the office, which was really fun, and she was totally surprised :o)

My other big work thing was that a major system we use was getting upgraded, and I am on the “change agent” team for my department. That ended up taking over my life for a couple weeks as I did demos (for individuals, small groups, and hundreds of people!), prepared, answered questions, rewrote procedures, etc. I will be so happy when everything is up and running! I got lots of great feedback about my work on the team, though. This is one of the first really “high visibility” things I’ve done, so I’m glad it’s gone so well.

Lots of new places are opening up in our town. MB came out and we went to the new Container Store on its opening day. It was actually kind of disappointing – very crowded (as I’d expected), the products were fairly expensive for things that weren’t really that unique, and there wasn’t really anything special going on for the “grand opening.” We had a fun day hanging out, though! And the new Chipotle is finally open! It’s in a horrible location with almost no parking, so it’ll probably start to frustrate me, but it’s nice to have somewhere that I can get a burrito bowl without having to cross a river.

Also this month:

  • New coworker started (who is also a friend and old coworker’s husband!)
  • I had probably the best annual review of my life at work, and am really excited to see what this year will bring
  • Continued going to yoga; these last couple weeks especially I feel like I’m finally getting the moves down and can now focus on breathing
  • GG and I went to a wine and cheese party, scoped out a friend’s new girlfriend (to report back to his mom), and made some other new friends
  • GG got a mural job at another local business
  • GG’s computer died :o(
  • I got a new computer to replace my current XP tower that I’ll have to take offline soon, as well as my “fun” laptop; it’s been getting to be a pain working off two computers, so I figured a laptop + docking station was a good solution. Now to redo my office!

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.