Recent Purchases

Yeah, I think I buy too much stuff… I will say, however, that many of these purchases were in preparation for a recent event (e.g. wedding, business trip, road trip), and that makes it okay, right? Anyway, here’s some things I’ve bought recently that I’d like to recommend.

  • American Eagle for Payless Anstin Point Flats: I got a patent leather pair to wear to a wedding recently, and they were so comfortable and cute that I went back for a gray suede pair. I love that they have the pointed toe, just because most of my shoes have a rounded toe and while comfortable, I feel like sometimes it makes them look kind of frumpy and also makes my big feet look even bigger. The one complaint I have about them is that the inside is metallic purple, but after wearing them the purple starts to rub off, so they’re just regular metallic silver. Where is the purple color going? Probably absorbed by my body, yum yum!

  • RuMe ALL Tote Bag: Those who have gone shopping with me know: I bring my own RuMe tote bags. I have lots of them, I use them for everything, I give them away as gifts. They are the best reusable bags, in my opinion – they’re huge, can support a lot of weight, are comfortable to wear over your shoulder or hold by the handle, and fold up very small. So when I saw they had come out with a tote bag, I pounced on it right away! It comes in lots of pretty colors, but being boring I chose black. It is awesome! Not quite as big as the regular tote, but it makes up for its small size by having non-slip handles, a zipper, and several outer pockets. And yes, it’s still lightweight and folds up just like the regular bags!

  • Powercup Inverter: This is about the size and shape of a medium paper coffee cup, it plugs into the cigarette lighter in your car, and gives you two three-prong outlets and a USB port. I first saw this last year and really liked the idea, but decided it wouldn’t work for me because by using it you lose your lighter port, so I couldn’t use it to power both my MP3 player (USB) and GPS (lighter) at the same time. However, my situation has changed and I now have two lighter ports, so I decided to go for it. It works great! I wonder if it needs to be so huge to work, though? I understand that it fits in the cup holder, but maybe it could be shorter (like a small coffee cup)?

  • Black Merona Satchel Purse and Microfiber Work Tote: I got both of these specifically for my business trip. My friend Jen (hi Jen!) at work actually had the purse in a gray color and I thought it would be great to take with me because it was large and had a zip-top, so I picked up one of my own in black. (I can’t find a picture of it online, but it’s pretty similar to this one.) It has three large pockets inside, in which I could carry an umbrella, book, big lint roller, and a day’s worth of snacks (in addition to my regular purse stuff: wallet, hair brush, makeup bag, etc.). The only thing I think it was lacking is smaller inside pockets, like a spot on the inside to slip my cell phone. Everything in the main pocket kind of rattled around in a pit, despite my attempts to keep it organized. The work tote is fantastic. I was nervous about taking my regular work bag on my trip because it doesn’t zip shut and also the handles are kind of falling apart – I could just imagine walking through the train station and the whole thing falling off my shoulder. This new bag is sleek, fully padded, and has a fun pink lining. The straps stayed on my shoulder and it was perfect to carry around on my trip.

  • Multi-Strand Pearl and Chain Necklace: I’d wanted a multi-strand necklace like this for a while, but didn’t really see any I liked. Finally I found a really cool one at Target. It’s not the one pictured below, but it’s very similar, with various chains and a string of silvery pearls, but mine is a little more twisted and tangled than the one in the picture. It’s really funky, and could add some interest to a formal outfit, or even dress up jeans and a t-shirt – as I did tonight, and received several compliments from strangers!

Business Tripping

I’ve let yet another busy week go by without an update! This week I went on a real business trip! (I traveled for work once before, but it was actually only an hour away and was for training. This was a longer trip where I actually met people and did work.) As I mentioned before, I was kind of nervous just because it was a long trip and I’d never been there before and was traveling by myself. But it actually went pretty well, and I think I did a good job, for a non-traveler.

I took the train there and back, which was about a five-hour ride each way. I didn’t realize it in advance, but my tickets were for Business Class, which was cool – there was lots of leg room, the cars were really nice, and everyone was quiet. I was worried about catching the train from Philadelphia in time, but actually it was running late, so I got off to a late start, and then we just got later as we headed north. By the time I reached my destination, I was about 45 minutes late, and then someone stole the cab I had called in advance, so I had to wait for another taxi. By the time I reached the office, I was about an hour later than I expected to be, and I had to cancel the first meeting I had scheduled. I felt like a jerk, but it wasn’t my fault, and luckily I rescheduled and the person was understanding about it.

So I was only in the office for a couple hours the first day, and that night I went out to dinner with my boss. Then I went to my hotel and passed out! I was super tired – a combination of waking up early, traveling all day, the stress of planning and everything, barely eating anything (Nobody told me Amtrak sold food on the train! Now I know for next time.), and my “Less Drowsy” Dramamine, which allowed me to read on the train and stay awake for my afternoon meeting, but eventually did catch up with me. (However, if I’d taken regular strength Dramamine or Bonine, I know I would have been sleepy and grumpy well before bedtime, so I have to say I am pleased with this product.)

Wednesday was a more productive day. My boss picked me up and drove me to the office, I did a little work, went to the cafeteria by myself to get breakfast, got lost coming back to my office (this place is arranged in circles, and everyone has a story about getting lost or walking into the wrong office), and had lots of very good meetings! Some were with people I’ve been working with on a project, so it was just good to see each other in person and some were just to introduce myself to people who do similar work to what I do. Everybody I met throughout my whole trip was super nice, which was cool. And hopefully I made a good impression on them!

My train coming home was right on time, no problems at all… Then we got to Penn Station in New York and it seemed like we were sitting there for a really long time. Finally they announced that there were mechanical problems with the last car and they were changing the car, so there would be a delay. By my count, we were 45 minutes behind schedule by the time we started moving again. The crew member I asked later said we were 30 minutes behind schedule. I used the bathroom on the train, it was pretty cool :o) By the time we got to Philadelphia, we were only 15 minutes late, so we must have made up the time along the way, I guess. My mom was coming to pick me up so I didn’t have to take the local train home, but she ended up getting caught in an accident on the expressway, so I was kind of late leaving anyway. Luckily, I took the next day off as a vacation day! (I still did do a little work at home, whoops!)

So now that I know how everything works, I won’t be so nervous about traveling if I have to go up there again. I’m actually kind of excited to maybe take my next business trip!

Willy, Lunch, Liberty, Busy Times Ahead

We had a very yucky, rainy weekend. Friday night I went out with a couple ladies from band for dinner and to see our director’s students perform their 8th grade musical, “Willy Wonka.” It was… well… they were 8th graders. A couple of the performers were actually pretty good (Charlie, Willy Wonka, Veruca Salt, and Augustus Gloop’s mom). The rest was kind of painful to watch. Those poor Oompa Loompas couldn’t dance for anything. The sets were pretty amazing, though – our director built (and invented!) them himself, and we got a little backstage tour after the show to see how everything worked.

On Saturday I was going to meet up with J and R and the baby for lunch, and then MB texted me and said she and A were in the area too, actually like 2 minutes from where we were going to get lunch. So we all ended up meeting up, which was a fun and interesting time. It was probably the longest “lunch” I ever had, though – I got there at 12:30 and didn’t get home until 3:00. Oh and there was hurricane-style rain, it was awful. Apparently a lot of people’s power went out, but we lucked out (as usual), and also had no drips anywhere that I could see.

On Sunday morning I went up to Target to check out the new Liberty of London line. I just wanted to look at it, it’s not really my style but everyone was freaking out about it. Really, the only pattern I liked was the black and white Dunclaire one, but I really don’t need another canister or storage box or scarf. (I did show this bedding to GG and he wasn’t opposed to it, even after I pointed out that it’s covered with flowers! It really doesn’t match our room, though.) There was actually a fairly good selection at the time, many things have already sold out online. If I were smart, I would have stocked up on whatever I could get my hands on, since the pieces are now selling for double (or more!) on eBay. Maybe I’ll stop at Target on my way home today and see if I can pick anything up – the one here by work is much slower, when the Cynthia Rowley line came out a couple years ago, this is where I came to get the pieces I needed that sold out at my regular Target.

Today is going to be a potentially busy day at work – or will be, whenever I get the go-ahead to get started. And then I’m going to be super busy at home tonight, I have a lot of little things I need to get done. Actually this whole week is going to be insane, and then I have a bunch of little trips to go on… ahh!

Workiversary, Roof News, Travel

My five-year anniversary at work is coming up this week. I know in the past people heard from the company a couple months in advance about choosing a service reward type gift. Since I hadn’t heard anything yet, I e-mailed my boss earlier this week to see if the new company was still doing this. Next thing I know, they’ve sent out an appointment to the whole department inviting them for cake to celebrate my anniversary! I felt kind of bad about it, actually. We never have parties to celebrate anyone else’s anniversary. And five years isn’t even that long. I think my boss just wanted an excuse to take a cake break while she was in town this week. (And the cake was delicious – it was chocolate with buttercream frosting, from Wegman’s.)

I talked to the roofer last night about installing that membrane he told me about to prevent the drips into our house. It’s not really that simple. He’ll have to first see how many layers of roof there are on our house, because at this age, there’s probably like five roofs on top of each other. (A conservative estimate would be three, but he’s seen up to ten!) Then they have to remove all the old roofing, and put on a new roof – with the water-tight membrane under it. It’s a big job and will cost thousands of dollars. Sigh. But it’s something that needs to get done, because we’ve already had a leaking problem for a while now (just not as major as when we also had ice dams this winter), and I’d rather do it right. He really made a big point of explaining how big a job this could be, but that he wants to do it properly. He’s like the Mike Holmes of roofs!

So, starting next week, I’m traveling like once a week for two months! Weird, for a homebody like me :o) The planning and stuff is kind of stressing me out – well, not the planning really, but the “how do I get there?” part of it – because of my dyscalculia. Maybe I’ll write about that sometime soon.

Snappy Comebacks

I had to have this little thing sliced off my face by the dermatologist last week. (Don’t worry, probably nothing bad.) Until it heals up, I’m wearing one of those little round bandages over it. It’s on the side of my face, and my hair covers it half the time, so probably nobody even notices. But I was a little disappointed that not one person* at work, at the wedding, or anywhere else asked me what happened, because I had a bunch of responses planned for when they did. Canary attack, malfunctioning stapler, angry chinchilla, etc.

I think it’s fun, when you have some minor/mundane injury, to make up a really cool story about what happened…

* Okay, one person asked – my grandmother. But I wasn’t about to lie to my grandmom, I just told her the truth :o)

First Week of March

Arg. I’ve been putting off updating because I’ve been so busy, but I figure I should do it now because it’ll only get worse.

This week at work was pretty busy. My first major project of the month finished up, but in addition to project #2 coming up in a couple weeks, I have now picked up a third project! (I’m really not complaining! It’s good to be busy, and to give people a chance to see what kind of work I can do. Not to mention, I had many very boring months in the past year, so this makes up for that period.)

On Wednesday I went to the dermatologist to get another mystery bump sliced off of me. Luckily, GG was able to drive me, because I had to go to a different office about 30-40 minutes away, through some kind of unsavory areas.

I have to mention here that GG is so good. I’ve been really stressed out lately, and he’s so great at putting things in perspective for me. I am a planner and I like to know well in advance how things are going to be, and sometimes it’s not possible to get all the details ahead of time like that, or other things come up unexpectedly. Even though being a planner is not a bad thing, maybe I need to learn how to roll with things I can’t control a little more.

On Thursday I worked all day, went to a (different) doctor’s appointment right after work, and then went to a wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. This was for our friends E and K, and GG was a groomsman. He’d never been in a wedding before, and 1) didn’t realize what being a groomsman would entail (i.e. expenses and responsibilities), and 2) still doesn’t really understand social conventions surrounding weddings (e.g. bride’s guests sit on left, groom’s guests sit on right, that sort of thing). We got through the rehearsal in about an hour, and then went to a really nice dinner. I got to meet the rest of the wedding party, and I have to say, it was one of the most awesome groups of people I’ve ever had the opportunity to spend time with!

The wedding was on Friday, so I just took the whole day off work. Good thing, because I ended up sleeping way, way in. GG had to leave earlier, and then I had lots of time to get ready. I rode to the ceremony with another groomsman’s wife. It was a Catholic ceremony with the full mass and communion, so I was worried it would be really long, but it was only about and hour. And it wasn’t like I was bored or anything, there was always something interesting going on. Afterward, we went to a really nice country club for the reception. It was great. They had a really fantastic band – I don’t think I’ve been to a wedding before that had a live band, just DJs. The band, seriously, was awesome – wish I remembered their name! I think my favorite thing they played was Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling – they sounded just like the recording! But they played lots of good music. And at E and K’s request, GG and a couple other groomsmen played/sang one song with them. Oh also, the priest who married them was so cool! I met him at the rehearsal, so I got to see his personality then. He was cool and funny during the ceremony – he did a good job directing everyone, and just rolled with it when a couple little things went wrong (nothing major, just stuff like he lost his place in his book at one point, and was like, “I’ll be with you in a moment.”) But the most awesome part was at the reception, that guy could dance!

[Edit – 11:45 PM] I found the band, it’s the Rich Posmontier Ensemble. If you are in the Philly area and looking for a band for your event, I highly recommend them! [/Edit]

Even though Friday felt like a Saturday to me, I was happy to have two weekend days anyway. I spent today doing some cleaning around the house, as well as several errands – returned GG’s rental tux, got my eyebrows threaded, got a haircut, went food shopping. Yes, it’s been a few months since I had my eyebrows done. I was mad at my threading lady because she was kind of jerky the last time I was there. I decided today to give her another chance, but it turns out that she’s gone back to India, and all new people are running the place! The new girl who was working there was great, though, so I’ll probably start going regularly again.

Next week: only two actual “activities” on my calendar – so far!

Suddenly So Busy!

I’m going to enjoy my free time today, because for the last few days I’ve been super busy, and it will continue for the next month!

On Friday night, Jess, Rob, and the baby came over for dinner. I did all the cooking before they got here, so when they arrived we could just sit down and eat, and then we talked for a while, and then they had to go home because baby was getting tired. We had baked ziti, salad, garlic bread, and brownies. While I was taking the ziti out of the oven, I touched the top heating elemant with my pot holder and kind of singed it. No problem, I’ve done that before. But while we were sitting there eating, I smelled something burning. I got up, and the pot holder I thought I had just singed was actually slowly burning, plus now it was burning the other pot holder it was sitting on, and they were both smoking! I quickly ran both under water, but they weren’t salvageable – both had holes burned through them! (Good thing we were sitting in the kitchen, so I noticed the smell – otherwise that could have been really bad!)

Lina and Erika came out on Saturday and we went to Ikea and then lunch in Plymouth Meeting. Somehow, I ended up buying more than super-shopper Lina! But it was all things I needed: pants hangers, new pot holders (haha), a cutting board… Oh, and they now have this little half-shelf that fits in the Billy bookcase and is the perfect size for holding CDs! I am excited to set mine up, I actually keep my CDs on my Billy bookcase and was recently thinking that I needed a new storage solution because I’m running out of room.

Today I went out shopping for an outfit to wear to an upcoming wedding, my weekly food shopping, and some other things. I was gone for a couple hours, went to four stores, and amazingly got everything on my list. For the wedding outfit, I have two potential dresses (and two potential pairs of shoes, but that will come down to comfort). I’ll show GG later and see what he thinks…

Coming up this month: Two big projects at work; two doctor’s appointments; rehearsal dinner; wedding; a middle school musical; a two-day, one-night business trip; overnight spa trip; concert; and Easter trip!

My 3rd Consecutive Day Working at Home…

Well Wednesday I worked from home because that’s my normal day to be home. And then I had band practice, which thankfully ended on time with no meetings or anything afterward, so I was home at a reasonable time.

Thursday morning we woke to snow. Not much, and it wasn’t sticking, but they said it was going to be much worse by the afternoon. So I decided not to risk getting stuck at work, and stayed home. Also, we switched to a different e-mail system so everyone’s all confused by e-mail now. (Which is great, when most people aren’t in the office that day.) I totally should have gone to work, though, because it never got bad all day, the roads were just wet.

Late Thursday night, the snow finally started to stick. I went out at one point and sprinkled some ice melt on the driveway and sidewalk. (Side note: GG picked up a couple bags of ice melt for us because we ran out of salt after the Snowpocalypse. This new stuff is called “Blizzard Wizard!”) By the time I went to bed, you couldn’t even tell I’d done anything – not because the snow had piled up, rendering ice melt useless, but because the wind had picked up to the point that snow had blown over everything.

This morning, Friday, I really wanted to get to the office. When I woke up, the snow was really swirling. I called our weather hotline, and they said that due to weather conditions and road closures, my office would not be opening until 10 AM. (Another first! I’ve never had a delayed opening here!) Around 9:00, it started looking even worse! So, I gave up. I’m staying home again. I can actually do most of the things I need to do from here, albeit slowly. I don’t have any pictures of the current weather conditions, but imagine being inside a snow globe that was just shaken. So, I will enjoy yet another day at home, maybe going out eventually to shovel things off if the snow stops blowing around…

Ninja Master Prep

I’d seen the Ninja Master Prep on QVC a couple times and it looked like a nice alternative to the Vitamix (at about 1/10 the price), so since I happened to be buying something else, I tacked this onto my order as well. I got some smoothie ingredients and was all set to try it out as soon as it arrived.

The general idea is that there are two blades, a higher and a lower one, so that things at the very bottom of the bowl get blended, as well as stuff higher up. The motor itself is the “Ninja,” a pod that sits on top of the container and can be moved between the different sized bowls. It claims to be very powerful and can quickly crush ice into “snow,” etc.

First impressions: Wow, there are a lot of components! The set QVC sells comes with an extra bowl and extra pitcher, plus storage lids for each, so you end up with: 1 “ninja” (the actual motor, which sits on top of the bowl or pitcher), 1 set of pitcher-sized blades, 1 set of bowl-sized blades, 1 pitcher splash guard (the lid you use while blending), 1 bowl splash guard, 2 pitchers, 2 bowls, 2 pitcher storage lids, 2 bowl storage lids, and a little recipe booklet. I washed everything as soon as I got it, but I still haven’t figured out where to store all these pieces. They’re not really stackable or anything. The blades are extremely sharp. (I haven’t cut myself yet, but I’m being very careful.) I do like that even though they’re plastic, the pitchers and bowls seem very sturdy and well-made. And they’re BPA free! They have rubber on the bottom that holds them securely to the counter while blending, and the splash guard lids have rubber gaskets around them and fit securely, so nothing comes out. My one complaint/worry is that the blades are on plastic rotors, and it seems like it would be very easy to damage them. I have read many accounts and negative reviews from people who stripped the plastic gears within their first few uses.

My first couple attempts with using this were to make smoothies, and they turned out great! The blades handled frozen berries that were hard as rocks, and everything turned out nice and smooth and creamy. I first tried using the pitcher, since it has the nice pour spout, but it doesn’t really pour that neatly. I made my second smoothie in the bowl, which I think is my preferred container, but that’s also not built for pouring. Oh well.

Smoothie ingredients

The blender in action

Finished smoothie

My next experiment was making chicken salad. I’d seen them chop chicken in the demos on TV, and the recipe book included two chicken salad recipes, so I figured it’d work great. Well, I put my hunks of chicken into the blender (there was too much for the bowl), turned it on, and in a couple of seconds ended up with chicken puree at the bottom, and whole pieces still at the top. So I pulled out the whole parts, dumped the dust at the bottom into my mixing bowl, then put the unchopped pieces back in for a quick pulse. Maybe I just like chunkier chicken salad, but this was sort of gross. It became more of a chicken paste. Luckily, I learned my lesson and didn’t bother trying to chop up my celery in the Ninja.

The next recipe I tried was salsa. There was a recipe in the booklet, but I kind of made up my own. I used a small onion, a few plum tomatoes I’d broiled in the oven (hoping for a charred or smokey flavor), a ton of cilantro, and a little salt and pepper. That was it! Within a couple of pulses, the tomatoes were really well chopped, but there were still some huge pieces of onion. If I’d been smart, I would have chopped the onion a little by itself, then added the rest and chopped it all together. Oh well. I took out the blades and mixed in a little bit of fire-roasted corn. GG says it’s the best salsa ever (even though it’s not spicy!), and wonders why anyone would buy salsa when it’s so easy to make it yourself. I transferred mine to a Rubbermaid container, but I guess I could have left it in the bowl with one of the storage lids on it.

Delicious, fresh salsa

Up next, guacamole! Once again, I was a little disappointed with the consistency. After the first couple chops, it was a little chunkier than I would have liked. So I gave it one more pulse, and it was like the straw that broke the camel’s back – it became more like a chunky paste. It was still delicious, though! But I’ll have to keep practicing to get the consistency that I like.

Guacamole ingredients

Still a little chunky

Small chunks

Clean up is super easy. Most of the things I made in it I’ve just been able to rinse out, and it’s totally clean. There’s no little crevices or anything for food to get stuck in. Everything can go in the dishwasher, but I don’t usually trust that. The motor can’t go in the water, of course, but it doesn’t really get dirty since it’s completely seperate from the containers, and doesn’t even have to be in the vicinity until the lids are on.

Overall, I like it. Barring any problems (which, from reading reviews of anyone who’s owned it longer than a few months, seem inevitable), I’m pretty happy with it. The main thing seems to be that either everything is going to be uniformly smooth (e.g. making a smoothie drink), or if you want to keep it chunky you need to blend in small batches (e.g. making salsa or chicken salad).

A Parking Story

Since I don’t drive in cities, Julie offered to drive me to dinner on Saturday night. So I did some research ahead of time and found a nearby garage to park in (she said she preferred garages to lots, I didn’t blame her), and paid for parking.

When we got in, we were directed to the third floor, where the cars were parked two layers deep on each side of the aisle. Julie said we were going to be there a few hours, and the guy working there was kind of vague about where he wanted her to park, so she decided not to let herself get parked in, and took a spot in the front row of cars.

So we went to dinner, came back to the garage, paid in the lobby, and headed up to the third floor. Surprise, there were now two layers of cars parked in the aisle! So much for not getting parked in!

And of course, there were now no attendants to be found. Finally, a couple guys showed up and they moved enough cars out of the way so she could get out. It was very tight, though. I would have gotten out to help direct her, but she was literally right against the bumper of the car next to us, so I couldn’t even open the door. (I think she actually did scrape that car, ugh!) Luckily, some very nice women happened to be walking by, and helped guide her! And one of the attendants came over to help. It took a lot of back and forth and straightening out and hard turning, but we did finally get out of there!

I was so happy at that point that I hadn’t driven! There’s no way I could have gotten out of that spot. Also, from now on, I think parking lots are just fine! In honor of our parking adventures, I sent Julie the video of TMBG’s Glasgow.