- 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!
- 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)
- Added a new member to my team for my second side biz, and helped her launch!
- Also did a bunch of activities and events for both of my side jobs… Very busy!
- Went to my first Miche party (very dangerous for a purse addict such as myself…)
- We found a little bump under the skin on Ivan’s tummy, right in his favorite spot for scratching – it felt like a little marble. The vet thought it might be a tumor, and if it was, it would be fast-growing, so we had it removed. Good news – it was a benign hemangioma! They removed it all, and it will not grow back :o)
- Saw Gone Girl with my grandmom and my friend J, both of whom I’d gotten to read the book. The movie was great! Just as good (and frustrating) as the novel…
- Had a beautiful, warm day for Homecoming at MU! It’s always nice to hang out with my college friends (mostly L and S, who we meet there every year), and fun to see how things change from year to year. This year we were able to get a tour of one of the fancy new dorms they’ve built! (Soon all our old dorms will be torn down and replaced by these things.) Private bathrooms! (I still don’t understand how they expect college kids to be responsible for keeping these things clean, but whatever…) And they have a late-night campus food truck now?!
- Went to the Ren Faire with L and S! Another lovely day! We did our usual activities (pickle on a stick, the falconer, the Circus Stella acrobats…), and some new things (glassblowing demo, paraffin wax hand treatment…). And our friend J works there, so it’s fun to get to visit with her, too!
- When I got home from the Ren Faire, there was an amazing gift waiting for me! A magical fairy had stopped by and left me a KitchenAid mixer! (The exact one I wanted!) …Ok, it was my mom, and it was sort of a thank-you gift for helping out with some stuff the previous week, and we’d been talking (for years!) about how I wanted one, but that was still extremely generous of her!
- As usual, we gave out full-sized candy bars for Halloween this year. We sat out on our porch, but for some reason, some kids were scared to even come up to the house…?
- 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!
- 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!
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).
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!
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!
OMG, I updated my WordPress theme! I have been wanting to change it for a long time, but never got around to it (see also: the frequency with which I update this blog!). Lots has changed in the last 8.5 (OMG!!) years – it’s way easier now to install and customize a theme. Why did I wait so long?!
While I’m in an updating mood, let me tell you what’s been going on lately. I had my band concert at the beginning of the month. It was fine. Usually there is at least one piece that I’m really excited to play, and even if I don’t like all our selections at the beginning of the season, several more will grow on me. However, that never happened this spring. So I guess it went well, I just didn’t particularly care :o/ Afterward, GG and I took my grandmom out for dinner, which also counted as her Mother’s Day celebration, because I couldn’t coordinate a time with her and my mom to celebrate.
The following weekend, GG and I were supposed to go to this bacon festival, but it’s been postponed until October! (Based on feedback about another bacon festival that took place the weekend before, it sounded like that was a good idea, so they could have enough time to better organize the event.) Then it turned out that my brother was going to be in town on Mother’s Day, so I did end up seeing my grandmom, and my mom, when we all got together for hoagies.
The weekend after that was opening day for our local farmer’s market, plus it was the day of the compost bin and rain barrel sale for our county, so I went with GG and finally got my compost bin (I’ve wanted one for a few years, but was never able to go to the sale)! And we hit up the farmer’s market and checked out some new vendors. On Sunday, MB and I went to New York to see “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” with Neil Patrick Harris on Broadway! She called me after her birthday party to tell me that some of her coworkers had given her a pair of tickets, and I started telling her about the show and what a great time she and A would have. Then she was like, “Actually, he doesn’t want to go… so do you want to go with me?” Um, yes! Besides the craziest blister I’ve ever gotten, we had an awesome day! The weather was perfect, we picked up some gourmet macarons before the show, the show was amazing, we got dinner afterward at a neat Belgian restaurant, and everything worked out with getting the train to and from NYC. Loved hanging out with my chicklet for the day!
So now we’re coming up to the end of May already, which I can’t believe! My goals for Memorial Day weekend are to put my office back together (I’m reorganizing after getting a new desk and rearranging the furniture a little, but I think it’s going to take a little longer than I intended…) and finish some freelance design work (which might also take longer than intended, because I am missing a key piece of info from my client, who is now on vacation). Other than that, I am just relaxing, because June is going to be crazy!
I’d been wanting to try another Stitch Fix, but their wait times were redonk (like almost two months!) so I didn’t bother. However, I randomly checked one night and the wait was more like a little less than a month, so I decided to schedule one. If you missed it previously, I’ve tried this service twice, earlier this year. The first time was a total miss, and the second time I kept three out of five pieces (a jacket, a top, and a necklace). For this mid-May Fix, I asked for pieces that I could wear on an upcoming business trip and/or our anniversary overnight trip.
As has become my M.O., I went ahead and googled everything in my box after it shipped, to try to get a sneak peek. I couldn’t find the necklace (but a rhinestone necklace? come on), but I did find all the tops, and it looked like a lot of loose, dolman sleeved, twist front type stuff. I tried to make it abundantly clear that I wanted things that would fit my curves, so I figured I would reserve any judgement until I actually tried everything on.
My first thought upon reading my stylist note and seeing the items in person? I am so happy I finally got a stylist who understands me! Darien referenced the anniversary trip in her note (no mention of my business trip, but that’s fine because it’s since been cancelled!), and understands where I need things to fit! Had everything fit well, I might have kept it all (and gotten the 25% discount)! However, I had to be a little more judicious, so I just made a couple selections. But overall I’m really happy with this box and this stylist!
Tart “Eames Gathered Waist Short Sleeve Shirt” – $58
Best thing in the box. I love the bright blue color, I love the soft jersey fabric, and I love that the waist is nipped in. Of course, it’s also the most expensive thing in the box… Keep.
Loveappella “Janie Cross-Front Dolman Sleeve Knit Top” – $54
Marlyn Schiff “Rylin Rhinestone Teardrop Pendant Necklace” – $42
Not my usual color or style, but I wanted to give it a shot. Definitely needs a tank or something worn under it. For some reason it kind of reminds me of a maternity shirt (maybe the “belly band” part of it), but I do like the way it fits, and I think it’ll be fun for my trip and for going out this summer. Keep.
I love the necklace, and had it been in the $20-or-less range I would have kept it (or if all four tops had fit me, I would have kept it to get the discount), but I am not paying that much for something that feels cheap and I could get somewhere else for much less. Return. (Side note: the chain was horribly tangled when I received this. They maybe need to package necklaces differently.)
Renee C “Malcolm Striped Dolman Sleeve Knit Shirt” – $48
I was actually really excited for this one, it looked like something fun and casual to wear this spring, but the openings of the sleeves are weirdly tight, and there is no stretch to the fabric at all! Since I can’t get the sleeves to the right spot on my arms, the whole thing just ends up fitting very strangely was was kind of uncomfortable. Too bad! Return.
41Hawthorn “Milano Twist-Front Crew Neck Knit Top” – $54
This was one that I’d seen in other people’s fixes, and I really was not sure that it would not look good on someone who is not a stick. I tried it on by itself, and there were way too many lumps and bumps. So I pulled out a secret weapon (my Ruby Ribbon cami!) and tried again. This helped a lot, but the shirt is still so… strange. And kind of requires a lot of fiddling to get all the foldy parts right. And is really long. And is long-sleeved?! (The fabric is so soft, though!) Seeing it in this photo just sealed its fate for me. Return.
So overall, I kept 2 out of 5 items, which isn’t amazing, but I liked everything and would have kept the whole box if it had worked out.