Franklin Mills Mall

This weekend we had a rare free Saturday with no plans. We looked up all the local convention centers, but nothing worthwhile was going on (no, we didn’t want to spend $30 to get into the Log Cabin and Timber show). We thought about going to an outlet mall, but they’re all outside and it was freezing. Then, out of the blue, I said, “I’d like to go to the Franklin Mills Mall.”

I’d only been there once, and it must have been in 2000 (because I saw the X-Men movie in the theater there). I remembered it being big, with a lot of empty stores, and a couple big restaurants (we ate at the Rainforest Cafe, and I also remember seeing an Elephant & Castle). Well, things have changed a little bit – there are almost no empty stores, which actually makes the KoP Mall look a bit sad! But the big restaurants are gone, the only non-food court place to eat is Ruby Tuesday. We did have lunch there, it was good, and our waitress was super nice. Also, there was a booth near where we were that was apparently a tight squeeze to get into, and I had a great view of people trying to squish their way in, deciding they can’t fit, and asking to move to a different table.

We ended up parking at one end and walking through, having not seen a map, which was really amusing because the mall is shaped like a lightning bolt! So every time it looked like we were coming to the end of a stretch of stores I would say, “No, I think it was bigger than this, we’ll probably turn a corner,” and then we did turn a corner, zigging and zagging to the opposite end of the mall. GG was totally confused by the layout, and delighted by the hardwood floors. There are places throughout the mall with unusual features, like the “video court,” which has a giant tower of TVs with neon lightning bolts coming out the top. And GG pointed out that the whole mall had a weird mood because there is no music playing outside of the stores. Overall, it feels like nothing has been updated since the mall opened in 1989 (in fact, a lot of stores still have the 1990s version of their logo on the sign, like Bath & Body Works and Bed Bath & Beyond).

There were a lot of random stores we’d never heard of, but I have a feeling they might be parent companies of several brands, all in one store? Can’t think of any examples at the moment. Most places there are “outlets” or “factory stores,” so there were some good deals. We went to a lot of stores, but didn’t really buy much. GG bought some cologne, which he ended up getting for like half the original price when he pointed out that it was last year’s edition. He haggled and he didn’t even know it, I’m so proud of him! Later, he went to play with guitars at the Sam Ash (which he claimed was better than the KoP Sam Ash, but I don’t know about that), and I went to a couple other stores and ended up getting some cheap tops at Banana Republic (as in, the cost for three of them was less than the original price of one of them).

When we got home, we watched Green Zone – I missed the first bit of it and I feel like it completely messed up my understanding of the movie, because I just could not follow the story! So I ended up falling asleep before it ended, and later GG told me who died in the end. Other than that, the rest of our Saturday was spent laying around. Sunday we went out to the supermarket, followed by more laying around. It was too cold to do anything else!

Linky Thursday – 1/20

Poetic Analysis of the Chilean Miner Twitter Feed: Hopefully, during the Chilean Miner rescue operations last year, you were following the hilarious @chilean_miner on Twitter. Now someone has gone through and analyzed their postings – though I highly doubt the authors had all that in mind when they were writing them!

Goofus & Gallant: These Highlights for Children characters are all grown up, and they have a Twitter account.

Chocolate Pop Rock Rice Krispie Treats: I love this idea and I love that you can get unflavored pop rocks to use in recipes, but I wish this would work if you just mixed the pop rocks into the cereal, because I don’t really want chocolate frosting on my Rice Krispie treats…

Nerd Merit Badges: I love these! I hope they come out with some more because right now only three of them apply to me, haha!

Guide to House Cat Coat Color and Patterns: Very interesting and information-filled chart! Can you find your cat(s) on it?

Why I can’t stop reading Mormon housewife blogs: Hahaha, I love reading them too! Not necessarily “mommy blogs,” because I also like reading missionary letter blogs and those written by singles and newlyweds (though some will be mommies soon: hi Nikki!).

Mostly about stuff I ate and listened to this weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

Eye-splosion, Farm Show, Jacob de Zoet

Yes, blogging! Ok, go!

On Sunday morning I felt like I had a hair in my eye. Looked in the mirror and… Oh my gosh my eyeball has exploded! Apparently I had burst a blood vessel at some point, like in my sleep. I was understandably freaked out, but luckily it was sort of on the side of my eyeball so you could only see it when I looked to the left. I made an appointment to see an eye doctor the next day. He confirmed that it was just a blood vessel and there was no other damage (and also my eyesight hasn’t changed any since I got my super-weak glasses five years ago). And he warned that it would look worse before it looked better. He wasn’t kidding – over the past several days, it’s gone from a semi-noticeable red spot in the corner of my eye to a bloody bruise right next to my iris, awesome. Hopefully it’s better in another week or so.

The optometrist I saw had a Monet painting in his waiting room, which totally amused me. I texted GG right away and we had a little exchange that made me smile:
Me: Optometrist has Monet painting in office – ironic joke?
GG: Ask if that is on purpose and if they understand the sick irony of it…
Me: I am going to. Also I love that I knew you would get the joke.
GG: Of course!! I love that you would notice that!! :))

I did not really get any sleep on Sunday and on Monday morning I was not feeling well but went to work anyway. I sat there with the worst headache that also included dizziness and nausea for about two hours before I decided to head back and work from home. The day went better once I could lay down, but that headache definitely lasted a couple days.

On Tuesday I had taken the day off because GG and I went out to Harrisburg to visit the PA Farm Show with L and S. We hadn’t been since 2009. It seemed like there was less in the way of food vendors this year, but otherwise it was pretty big. And we still managed to get tons to eat – both in the food hall and from free samples. Luckily we went on a weekday and went early in the day. We saw and petted a lot of rabbits, and GG also accosted a FFA kid and got him to teach us about how bales of hay are judged (because the ones that had won prizes were totally not the ones we would have chosen, but after hearing the judging criteria their selections made sense). We got home in the early afternoon, luckily beating the snow we were supposed to get later. It did start snowing later that evening, and we walked down the street in the snow to get Chinese food for dinner.

Wednesday is my normal day to work from home, so it worked out well that it was a snow day. It seemed to have stopped snowing overnight, so GG and I went out to shovel after the sun came up. Most schools near me were closed for the day but the district where I have band practice only had a two-hour delay, so we still had a rehearsal that night. We finished 15 minutes early so people had extra time to get home in case roads were bad. I used my bonus time to get in bed and finish reading my library book, which was due back the next day. I will need to write a further review of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, but basically it was this long crazy story (multiple stories, even) that frustrated me while I was reading it, but then it was sort of all worth it because the last pages almost brought me to tears.

Thursday and today were pretty lame, so I won’t bother boring you with that. However, I did have three very good phone calls today – there are possibly exciting things to come in the future!

Smoke-Free, Band, TV, Pantaloons

What the heck did I do this week? I don’t know. Obviously nothing blog-worthy, haha! Back to work, bla bla bla, though I did get a bonus day at home because I decided to avoid commuting in the snow this morning. One cool thing at work: as of January 1, 2011, our campus is smoke-free! They converted the smoking shelters in the parking lots to bike shelters! I didn’t think it would make such a huge difference for me, but it actually is really nice to be able to walk from my car to the building on the sidewalk without having to worry about walking through a cloud of smoke. I don’t know what my smoker friends are doing, though – do they just not bother during the day anymore, or do they drive off-campus to smoke someplace?

Band practice has started up for the season, that was probably the most exciting thing this week. As usual, I am semi-excited at this point for our concert. Some pieces I’m looking forward to playing, others I couldn’t care less. One that I’d been excited about when I saw we were playing it was “Opening Night On Broadway,” which includes selections from The Producers, Avenue Q, Spamalot, and Wicked, but it’s actually a pretty lame arrangement, so my excitement level just dropped right off when we played it. A couple that I wasn’t really enthused about that turned out to sound great are “The Perfect Storm” (from the movie), and “The Marriage of Figaro.” We’re also doing “Flight of the Bumble Bee,” which I’m pretty “meh” about, but I think the audience will get a kick out of it.

In television news, I caught the season premiere of V this week, it was pretty good, but man does that show move slowly. (Especially after having just watched Big Love, which is like an entire season’s worth of plot in every episode.) They’ve obviously increased their special effects budget a bit – and decreased the necklines on the V women’s uniforms, wow! Also, if you enjoyed watching Extreme Couponing on TLC, good news: 12 more episodes are on the way!

One last thing: I have been challenged to work the word “pantaloons” into conversation, specifically during my department’s weekly call on Monday. I don’t usually say much during these meetings anyway, so this could be tricky. I was thinking I could use it in an analogy or simile of some sort. Any suggestions?

Winter Break

I ended up with 10 straight days off work (including two weekends) over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday, so everything’s kind of blurred together for me and I don’t really remember what happened when, but here’s some highlights:

  • We had a quick snowstorm, so GG and I had to shovel a bit, but the weather’s been much warmer since then and actually much of our snow is already gone.
  • I got my eyebrows done (they needed it!). There were a couple people ahead of me, and the eyebrow lady was kind of crossing her legs and hopping around while she worked. When it was my turn, she told me she had to go to the bathroom, and I was like, “Please, go!” I didn’t mind waiting, I would rather have her happy and comfortable while she pulls stuff out of my face!
  • I watched both Extreme Couponing (is this a regular series now?) and the return of My Strange Addiction (so sad this comes on Wednesdays when I won’t be able to watch it!). I also, over the course of a couple days, watched the entire fourth season of Big Love. I’d never seen it before but now I’m hooked – just in time for the fifth and final season to start!
  • We had brunch on New Year’s Eve with J, R, and baby at Silverspoon, which was excellent – I’d definitely go again! And it was fun to see our friends of course. Also, the baby is suddenly a real human who moves around and does stuff. His current favorite thing is to blow everyone kisses!
  • We spent New Year’s Eve with MB and A and a few other guests at their place. Most of our time was spent eating – MB is such a great hostess (also, I brought a cheese tray that turned out to be quite a hit, despite olive juice leaking throughout everything). GG and A spent most of their time in the office, where GG gave a guitar lesson/show-off session, since MB gave A a guitar for Christmas. And we spent a while playing Creationary, which is like Pictionary with Legos. I didn’t really think I would like the game, but I ended up doing really well at both building and guessing! (I would have won, if we hadn’t made one of the rounds worth 8 points.) GG ended up getting super drunk, and slept the whole way home. He was hungover and remorseful on New Year’s day.
  • GG and I saw Black Swan. That was a messed up movie, although messed up in a different way than I’d been expecting. Also, the black and white metaphors were so obvious, as was the use of reflections. We’re still fans of Darren Aronofsky, though.

Back to work and regular life tomorrow! Welcome to 2011…