Suitcase, Spring Break, So Busy

Because I have been traveling so much lately, and will probably continue to travel, I bought a new suitcase this weekend. I’d been using this tiny rolling suitcase, but when I say tiny, I mean it was tiny. It’s like 2/3 the size of a standard carry-on rolling suitcase, and while I was able to squeeze in what I needed for an overnight trip, it would have been great if it were like an inch deeper. So I bought this Samsonite Litespeed 21″ upright (on sale and I had a coupon). I’m excited to start using it! I actually was torn between that and the Samsonite Pavilion 21″ spinner. I know spinners are really the way to go, but honestly those little wheels sticking out just made me nervous. And not that I plan to do much international flying, but the Litespeed apparently meets the size requirements for carry-on luggage, while the Pavilion is probably a tad too big (again, because of the wheels). Also, the Litespeed had great reviews. Yay, suitcases!

If you keep track of my life via blog, you’ll know that this weekend will be the annual trip to the Bucks County, PA area that GG and I take. Last year we mixed it up a bit by staying in Doylestown, not New Hope. This year we’re again mixing it up a bit, and not staying in New Hope. I’m very exited about the B&B we’re trying this year, and excited to explore a new area and new restaurants (even though Tastebuds is amazing, and I’ll miss going there this week).

Yesterday I sent GG an e-mail listing all the weekend activities we have planned so far, and oh my gosh, we are totally busy I think all but one weekend through the end of May! Plus, he’s been working 6-7 days a week for the past month! We are busy people!

Tally Hall at Johnny Brenda’s

I am currently in the midst of one of the longest periods of my life that I haven’t seen They Might Be Giants perform live (we last saw them on Dec. 31, 2008). Luckily, the awesome Tally Hall has been touring recently, so I saw them in December and then I saw them again this weekend! They played at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown, which I’d heard about but had never been to, so it was cool to be able to go.

GG and I arranged to meet up with Coz (of HITS) and his girlfriend Angie for dinner before the show. I’d heard the food there was really good, and they use all fresh, seasonal stuff so they don’t really have a set menu. Also, they don’t take reservations. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait too terribly long for a table at 7:30 on a Saturday, though the place was totally crowded. It is very dark there. Our table had a tiny red lantern hanging over it, and some little colored lights embedded in it, which was cool, but we could barely see our food. Everyone got something different, and I think it was all good. Also, we were later joined by two more friends of Coz – luckily we’d gotten a big table!

After dinner, we went out to see if Tally Hall and the other bands were outside, because they announced via Twitter that they were going to play four square with people before the show, so under-21 fans could see them. We stood around for a couple minutes, and then saw the guys coming down the street, but after chatting for a moment they all headed inside, and since it was really cold out, GG and I went in, too.

We went upstairs to where the music venue is. (Johnny Brenda’s is actually kind of cool – the downstairs is a bar and restaurant area, then the second floor has a small bar and a stage, and there is also a third floor balcony, which we did not explore. It’s all very old-looking. Also, it is absolutely packed with hipsters. If you’ve got a plaid shirt and a beard, you’re good.) None of our dining companions seemed to be around, so we staked out a nice spot in front of the stage and watched the opening band, Skybox. They were pretty good, though the bass player’s wiggly feet were really distracting. (I don’t know how else to describe this dance move he did the whole time – it was like he was slipping around on ice? Here’s an example.) Eventually, Coz et al showed up. They’d been playing four square with Tally Hall after all! Oh well, it was too cold out for me anyway.

Skybox, sans ugly sweater

TH does a little psych-up spirit circle before performing

So Tally Hall went on around 9:45 maybe? Joe hasn’t been with them for this tour, but they got this other guy Casey to fill in, and he was actually really good – after proving he could do Joe’s part in “Ruler of Everything,” he got huge cheers from the crowd! The show was really good, including an introduction from their self-proclaimed “biggest fan” (I think she would leave them tied up in her basement for a while before killing them, though), and “Just a Friend” as a closer.

Standing so close, it was hard to get all five guys into one shot!

When Tally Hall was finished, GG and I headed out – we weren’t planning on staying to see the headliner, Jukebox the Ghost. They probably would’ve been cool, though. Everyone we’d been hanging out with had kind of slipped off by that point, but we were able to find all but one to say goodbye before leaving. And we were home in time to see SNL (though we both passed right out)! You can see all my pictures and videos from the evening on Flickr.

Girlfriends Getaway

With a bunch of vacation days I had to use up by the end of March, I asked on a local message board a couple months ago if anyone had suggestions for fun trips I could go on with a few friends within a reasonable driving distance. I really lucked out, because someone recommended the Girlfriends Getaways promotion. I posted it on Facebook, got a couple friends lined up, and booked the trip. It was fantastic! I was very happy with the package, and would definitely recommend it – or even go again!

MB came to my place on Sunday morning – which was a gorgeous day, by the way! – and we had a nice drive down 422 out to Reading. At the Abraham Lincoln hotel we met up with Lina and Jules. This hotel was specifically recommended, and I really liked it. I’d been in touch with Stephanie, the front desk supervisor, for quite a while, and she really took care of us. I had e-mailed her with tons of questions, and she was so helpful! When we arrived I finally got to meet her, and we were actually able to check into our suite early. We received big shopping bags from the VF Outlets (aka “The Saddest Outlets in the World“), coupons, and some other pamphlets about area attractions.

Since we were able to check in early, we went up to our suite first before going out for the day. This is the one negative thing I’m going to say about the hotel. The place was really nice, it’s a very historic feeling hotel with some neat little details, very nice decor, etc. However, when we got up to our floor, the first thing I noticed was a cooking type smell. I can only guess someone was warming something up in the microwave in their room. Then we got to our room. With four of us staying together, we paid about $15 extra per person for a two-room suite. We assumed this would be two bedrooms connected, but it was actually a sitting room area with a pull-out sofa and a bedroom area with two double beds. I’m still glad we had the extra space, but the sofa bed and bedding for it was kind of gross, so we ended up sleeping in pairs in the beds. However, everything was clean, the beds were extremely comfortable, and the bathroom was nice (and came stocked with True Blue Spa products). Plus we had a fridge and microwave, two TVs (including one flat-screen), I believe the hotel has free WiFi, and I had a full cell phone signal with 3G.

We had nice views from our room!

Anyway, after getting situated in the room, we went out to The Saddest Outlets in the World. Lina, MB and I were there last year while our husbands were all at the Stoudt’s Brewfest. This time, despite the nicer weather, they were even sadder, with yet more stores closed. We actually really wanted to go to the Fuller Brush store, for example – I wanted to buy one of those brushes for cleaning your hairbrush (seriously)! But it was gone. We used some of the coupons we got to buy lunch, get pretzels, and pick up our matching sleep shirts. By the way, even though they were turquoise (not pink, as in the pictures), they were terribly unflattering. We got a picture before bed of everyone wearing theirs, and then we promptly swapped them for our pajamas! (If you’re my friend on Flickr, you can see the photo over there – I’m too nice to post it here for the world to see!)

We ended up wearing the same “uniform” of bright colored shirts and jeans!

After the outlets, we decided to check out Penn Avenue, because Lina had a brochure promoting it as a little shopping destination. Well, everything on that street is closed on Sundays, plus it got a little creepy the further we walked, so we just headed back to the car. After a nice afternoon shopping, we came back to the hotel for a bit, then went out to Austin’s for dinner. After lunch, a snack, and the giant dinners we were served there, all of us were totally stuffed! We went back to the hotel, and in an effort not to be totally lame, we stayed up talking for a while before finally giving in to sleep around 11 PM.

Monday morning, we took our time getting ready before heading downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast was included as part of the package, and the nice thing was that you could pick anything from the menu except, like, steak. The meal was really good! Then we checked out, and the hotel shuttle took us to the spa!

Because it seemed like the best deal offered, we chose the Accent on You spa. You got your choice of a pedicure, facial, or massage, plus a manicure. We all went for the massage/manicure combo. To save time, they paired us up so two got massages while the other two got manicures, and vice versa. MB and I were in the massage room first. Neither of us had gotten a real massage before, and I think this spa did a great job of making sure we were comfortable with everything, covered, etc. The massage was wonderful. GG always tells me that I should get a massage, but I never wanted to just go by myself, so it was also nice to have MB with me for my first time. However, now that I know what it’s like, I might have to start going regularly! Then while Lina and Jules got their massages, MB and I got our manicures. Everyone there was really nice, and we were treated really well.

When we were finished, the hotel shuttle picked us up and brought us back to the hotel. I am really glad they provided a shuttle for us, because some of the areas of Reading we had to drive through to there there were… not the nicest. Reading kind of reminded me of Norristown – the downtown area (where our hotel was) was kind of cute, but make one wrong turn and it gets a little sketchy. Oh well. Since we were already checked out, we said our goodbyes in the garage and everyone went their separate ways. MB and I actually stopped at Wegman’s for a late lunch on the way home, because her husband wanted her to pick up some certain beer that’s not sold in NJ, which they happened to carry.

So then we got home and I said goodbye to my chicklet, and got to unpack… This time it’s over a week until my next trip!

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!