I Love Philadelphia

We have some visitors from out of state at work this week, so they put together goodie bags for everyone. They are adorable! Brochures and postcards for local attractions like the outlets, zoo, Longwood Gardens, and Valley Forge park; Tastykake krimpets and tandy cakes; Herr’s chips; Hershey’s Kisses and Twizzlers; Wawa water bottles; mini Liberty Bells; and Slinkies (which I just learned are the official state toy of PA).

My birthday seriously sneaked up on me this year – I thought I had another week! So it’s going to fall on a pretty busy weekend. But I think GG will take me out to dinner somewhere nice.

Speaking of dinner… this was awkward… Last night we had a dinner for work with those people who are visiting. There’s also a woman who is joining the group in a couple weeks, but she’s attending the meeting this week and came to dinner too. So she doesn’t know anyone or what our backgrounds are. She was sitting next to me, and at one point in a lull in the converstaion, she turned to me and asked, “Do you have any kids?” Nope, just the cats. Then she turns to my friend H, sitting on my other side, and asked her the same question. Awkward, H has been trying for a while but hasn’t had any good news yet. Then she moves on to J, sitting across from me. Really awkward, J had a miscarriage and some other medical issues earlier this year. I wanted to say something like, “Look, I’m the only person here who doesn’t have kids and doesn’t want them. Everyone else either has them or is working on it. Now please stop asking everybody.”

Pants, pants, pants!

This was the Labor Day of pants, I guess. GG and I went to Target early this morning because there were a couple things I needed to pick up (preferably before any crowds descended), and while there I tried on some Mossimo jeggings, which had been suggested to me. Guess what – they actually fit really nicely! They’re in junior sizes, so the ones that are roughly equivalent to my regular misses size fit surprisingly well, but I sized up anyway because I was afraid of shrinkage when washing, and also it was a little tricky to peel off the properly sized ones. I really didn’t want to succumb to jeggings, but I think they will be a much more comfortable alternative to the skinny jeans + boots I tried wearing last winter. I’m actually very impressed with them – they have a working button but no zipper, they really feel like jeans, the front pockets are fake but the back pockets work (I think?).

For lunch we went to a restaurant at the mall, and then we killed time/burned calories by walking around afterward. I happened into the Gap, where I tried on a pair of their Real Straight 1969 jeans (I’ve wanted something other than bootcut for a while), and some of the Perfect Trousers from their new Premium Pants collection. Both fit well, but I left them in the dressing room because I refused to pay full price for them and figured I’d come back when they had a sale or something. Well guess what – they were on sale for Labor Day! Like, half off! So I went back, got them, and now have new pants.

Buying new clothes on holiday weekends kind of makes it more bearable to go back to work afterward… And now I’m really excited for it to get cool enough to realistically wear boots again!

Catching Up

I need to catch up with the blog! I was away for most of this week, and then when I got home I was so busy, plus our internet was down at home until this morning. So here we go!

Sunday night through Wednesday night I was on yet another business trip in New England. For a trip that went so well, a lot of little things went wrong (or were just inconveniences). For example, my train ticket was just “reserved” and hadn’t actually been purchased, and even though I’d been told I could use the electronic kiosk to finish the transaction, I apparently couldn’t. So I had to go wait in line and get tickets from a human. And then the train was packed! I didn’t realize Sunday nights were so popular! And I was stuck sitting near this mom with two little kids who wouldn’t shut up.

Every time I go up there it’s pretty interesting. Driving to work at home is so boring – it’s mostly highway, and then you get off the highway and there’s the office. Up there, the office (both offices where I was, actually) is sort of in the middle of town, and you get to drive through cute historic neighborhoods and stuff. Now, I imagine the traffic of thousands of people driving through little neighborhoods is not great, but the place is adorable. Also, they have awesome views out their office windows – even the cubicles!

I was actually at the office where the other half of my department is located on Monday, and it was nice to meet with people in person, meet co-workers I hadn’t met yet, and just be “present.” I went out to dinner on Monday with a member of my new group and another co-worker from PA who came up that night. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday my PA co-worker and I were at another office a few miles away for a two-day class. The class was interesting, but sort of left us depressed – it was about a methodology for implementing successful changes, but in the positions we’re in, we’d never have the authority to do the types of things they prescribe (e.g. assembling a team of the right people – since when do we get to put together our own teams?!).

The train ride home was nice, and it goes much faster when you’re not traveling by yourself – my co-worker came back home with me. For the first time I’ve ever experienced, our Amtrak train arrived at it’s destination on time! So I got home around 10:30 on Wednesday night.

Thursday I worked from home, cleaned, did laundry, and caught up on stuff around the house. Friday I went to my office for the first time all week. We went out to lunch to a new restaurant called Zoup!, which specializes in soup – they have 100 different types, 12 per day. They also have salads and sandwiches. My meal was okay, but I don’t think this place will make it on my list of top favorite restaurants. They’re also opening an Elevation Burger in the same shopping center, I’m excited to try that when it’s open! Friday night I called my mom to see if she wanted to get dinner, and she’d already eaten, but she told me she was meeting my brother and his friend to buy him a new computer (an early Christmas present, since his laptop just melted!), so I met up with them and then we had dinner after that. His friend was a vegetarian who wanted to go back to eating meat, so we went out for burgers!

On Saturday, GG and I had a nice day together. We went to the Farmers’ Market in the morning, where we ran into some friends and stocked up on fruits and veggies for the week (there was pretty much no food in the house since I’d been gone for most of the week). We spent the afternoon relaxing on the couch, then went out for dinner and to see Dinner for Schmucks. The movie was cute! Pretty funny throughout, and generally better than I’d expected. The cast was great! Loved Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Ron Livingston, Kristen Schaal, Nick Kroll, Jemaine Clement…

Today we went to GG’s friend’s mom’s house for a Labor Day party. It was catered! It was actually mostly their family and a few of their other mutual friends. It was fun! The main attraction was that they rented a PA system for GG to entertain everyone with stand-up comedy. I don’t think he’s ever done more than a 10-minute set, but today he went through every joke he had and did at least half an hour. I recorded him. 90% of his jokes are really offensive – the other 10% are stupid puns :o) But they actually wanted him to blast the offensive humor over the PA because their neighbors play loud music all the time.

Not sure what I’ll be doing on actual Labor Day, but it’s nice to have a bonus day off before another busy week! (The fun of being in two departments now – careful what you wish for when you wish for a job, I guess!)

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!)

“There’s no rules, it’s just cheese.”

I was watching an episode of Foodography about cheese, and realized that cheese is really the one type of food that I have no reservations about. I will try any type of cheese. I like hard cheese, soft cheese, sharp, mild, goat, cow, sheep, runny, herbed, blue, crumbly… Anything. I have never had a cheese I don’t like. Even if I don’t love it, I can at least eat it.

There is a place in Chicago called Bin 36 where they will just feed you cheese, like a wine tasting but of cheeses, and oh my gosh, I want to go someplace like this! Anyone know if there is anywhere in the Philly area that does anything like this? I know we have Di Bruno Brothers, but I feel bad going there, or to any cheese shop, just to taste test various cheeses. Yes, that’s what they’re there for, and I’m sure they’re happy to help people find just the right cheese, but I feel like I’m taking too much of their time or something.

…And as I write this I’m snacking on a bit of Manchego I picked up on my last supermarket trip. Mmm, salty Spanish sheep’s milk cheese…

“This ain’t the way to get the trouble started”

Thursday was GG’s actual birthday, and he seemed to be having a really hard time with the fact that he was a year older (even though I kept telling him, he was just one day older than he was on Wednesday). In an effort to really embarrass him, I showed up at GG’s office on his birthday with cupcakes to share with all his co-workers. I’d never been there before, so it was neat to see where he works, and nice to meet the people he works with. I think some of them didn’t believe I existed :o) And everyone seemed to appreciate the cupcakes.

On Saturday, GG went to work some overtime for the day while I cleaned the house and got ready for our party that night. The house was looking good, and even though we’d gone food shopping at Costco and I picked up more stuff at the supermarket that day, I was still worried we wouldn’t have enough food to serve everyone. Due to some people’s flakiness, and the casualness of Facebook RSVPs, we weren’t really sure exactly how many people would show up. Only a few people actually came at the start time (which was fine, it’s not like we had special activities planned, and I’d told people to just show up whenever). But then all of a sudden, everyone showed up! It was crazy! Suddenly the house was packed (and hot). GG and a couple friends had to go on a beer run (luckily we’re walking distance from the distributor!), and I ended up cooking three or four batches of hot hors d’oeuvres. We had a really good mix of people, and it was cool to get various facets of our friends together – one of my favorite parts about having a party! We have some of the coolest friends. Some of the conversations that were going on were just awesome. I wish we could see a lot of them more often! Anyway, GG got really drunk and everyone ended up leaving by around 11, and then I cleaned up and finally collapsed in bed by midnight.

I didn’t have any big plans for today, and didn’t have many chores to do, considering everything was pretty much cleaned up for the party, and we ended up with enough leftover food that I didn’t need to go food shopping. So I did some things around the house that I’d been putting off, and did eventually go out to the supermarket because we do need our regular staples for the week. And I had a much-needed nap.

Less Enthusiastic Reviews

Usually when I review things here they’re positive reviews because I’m happy with a product and want to share. But I figured I’d post about a couple things I was less happy with, just to keep things balanced and maybe to save you time if you were considering a purchase.

L’Oreal Go 360° Clean Deep Facial Cleanser: I’d seen these around, and was intrigued by the “scrublet,” because I’m always looking for ways to scrub and exfoliate. So the last time we were at Target, I picked the green one, which is just the basic cleanser. It smells nice. It cleans fine, doesn’t leave any film or anything. But the scrublet is disappointing. It’s not scrubby at all, it’s very soft. I’d get a better scrub by just using a regular washcloth. Oh well, it’s a good gimmick, anyway.

Alba Botanicals Coconut Cream Lip Balm: This came bundled with the first Alba sunscreen I bought, and as much as I loved the sunscreen, I am not a fan of the lip balm. It’s kind of thick, it doesn’t go on nicely. And it barely lasts a minute. I guess the only thing I like about it is that it twists up from the top of the tube instead of the bottom…

Avon Vibes Cleanser: This is a new product that isn’t out yet, so no link or picture. It’s very similar to the Neutrogena Wave – a vibrating battery-operated device that you use to wash your face with pre-soaped pads. I haven’t used the Neutrogena one, though. So, the pad attaches to a velcro-like surface on the device. Then you run it under water, and go to town on your face. I guess I thought it’d be scrubbier than it was, or shake the dirt out of my pores or something. It doesn’t really vibrate that hard, really just hard enough to be annoying. And I wish it had a timer or shut off automatically when you’re supposed to be finished, because the first time I tried it I just kept going around and around my face, wondering when I was supposed to stop. Also, it’s just a flat round surface, so it doesn’t really conform to a lot of the contours of your face. I ended up with two containers of the pads, but I don’t think I’ll be buying anymore when I run out.

Mark Relief Effort Total Comfort Body Creme: This lotion smells delicious, I’ll give it that. And I like that it’s made with fair trade ingredients. But shortly after you apply it, it starts kind of peeling off your skin, rolling up like eraser dust. It’s a little gross. It’s nice while it stays on, though!

“When it rains it snows, I wonder why…”

Wow, my first official day in my new job and I’m already getting overloaded. I love it! Except I have lots of business travel coming up and it’s kind of cutting into my personal vacation plans, but hey, we didn’t need to go on a vacation anyway. I also learned a whole new component of my job today that’s actually a lot easier than I thought. My counterpart from another group in our department (who I’ve been working with for a while anyway) is such a good teacher! He throws in all these other little tidbits that are just the sort of things I’m interested in. And I think he’s glad that I got this job – while he was showing me how this system worked, I asked a “Why can’t we do ___?” question, and he was all excited to finally have someone else who “gets it” when it comes to technology :o)

Alsoooo, we got some really good money news today. Not, like, crazy good, but reassurance that we’re on the right life-path and that we’re realistic. True blog fans might be able to guess what I’m talking about. It has to do with the V.E.T.

And finally, I got fed up with all the spam comments again and installed a new CAPTCHA plugin. I tested it out and it seems good – hopefully it’s a little more user friendly than the last one, even; I know some people had problems with that one anyway. Let me know if you have any issues.