Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Restaurant Portion Size

Restaurant portion sizes are out of control in the United States.  I do not go out to eat to store up for a long winter.  I go to enjoy a quality meal...not a quantity one.  However, most restaurants do not seem to subscribe to this philosophy.

I was very aware that when I moved to Ireland, everything that came on your plate was substantially smaller.  From a McDonald's hamburger, to the size of a soda can, it was "super-sizing" in reverse.  And I loved it!  Thank goodness you could indulge on occasion without it being so out of line!  We'll forget that I was there during the mad cow outbreak and never actually ate beef, and they feed their turkeys fish, so the meat tasted so odd to me that I wouldn't eat poultry, and so was essentially vegetarian before my time.  Alright, a tuna-terian.  I was a college student, after all. 

Back to U.S. portions.  Chris and I went to Cheesecake Factory on Saturday night.  Yes, I recognize that they are one of the biggest culprits of over-sized portions, but who better to highlight?  In fact, their website states, "The Cheesecake Factory is famous for our generous portions which are ideal for sharing or taking home for a second meal – but be sure to save room to enjoy one of 50 legendary cheesecakes and specialty desserts."  The joke here is that they only state a "second" meal!

I LOVE their food.  This is not a criticism on their recipes, service, atmosphere, or anything else.  I ordered Evelyn's Favorite Pasta.  According to their website, again, this is, "Penne Tossed with Broccoli, Oven-Dried Tomato, Roasted Eggplant, Peppers, Artichoke, Kalamata Olives, Garlic, Pine Nuts and Parmesan."  Can you say, HEAVEN?  Well, Chris would find this disgusting, but I loved it.  Little heavy on the olive oil, but otherwise delicious.

The problem?  When the meal came out, I estimated that they had given me a full pound of pasta.  No, that is not an exaggeration.  The meal was presented on a serving platter.  No worries, I would just eat until I felt full.  When that occurred, you could barely tell I had touched the food.  The amount served lasted me 3 meals, and I felt like I had over-eaten each time.

1/3 of Evelyn's Favorite Pasta

Out of curiosity, I looked up the calorie content.  According to LiveStrong, Evelyn's Favorite Pasta contained 1192 calories and 33 grams of fat!!!  And this is for a dish that "sounds" somewhat healthy!  I know that long ago we all learned that we can't judge the health-quotient from the description on a menu, but to use almost an entire day's calories in one meal is beyond ridiculous.  And, after factoring in 2 pieces of bread and a glass of lemonade (that was also gigantic), I would probably have reached my daily goal.

Fortunately, our bodies are smart if you listen to them.  I didn't finish the lemonade, and eating 1/3 of the pasta dish would have equaled about 397 calories and 11 grams of fat.  MUCH more rational.  Why are we put in this situation, though?  Obviously, much of the country has lost the ability to hear their inner voice (including myself a lot of the time!).  I wish that restaurants would make it a little easier on us and reduce the portions to a rational size, that we could relish with gusto, and not have a food coma afterward.

I think the portion confusion that exists is what has led our country to try so many unhealthy diet plans.  I 100% believe in not limiting what foods you eat, but to eat a variety, and to do so in moderation.  I don't eat much meat or dairy, but that's not for diet purposes, but rather for the comfort of my body and mind.

Here's my call to arms!  American restaurants?  Please do your part to stop inflation.  Of our waistlines, that is.     

Monday, August 30, 2010

30 before 30: #8 FAIL

I can't even say I tried.  My problem is that I have no follow through.  Saturday, people started talking to me, so it gave me the perfect opportunity.  However, I have not pulled off #8 yet.  It is:

#8. Talk to 5 random people in the hopes of becoming friends

Saturday, Harper was up bright and early, so by 6:30 am we were out the door walking.  She was being a loon since she is FINALLY done with her heat, healthy, and feeling energetic.  We get to the bend in our road, about 5 houses down, and she goes crazy barking at a mom and her daughter exiting their house to walk their dog.  This dog is angelic.  It is a shepherd mix, but unlike our loon, never barks, never tugs, and frequently runs with his mom off leash.  I believe his name is Bear.  Why am I not friends with this family?  I suppose it's that they have kids.  

I have this hang-up that anyone with kids must be older than me.  Which, of course, is absolutely ridiculous.  I have friends, who I graduated with, who have MIDDLE SCHOOLERS.  I should not assume that baby = old.  In my mind though, I never really see moms as potential friends, unless I knew them pre-kids.  Maybe I don't feel like I can relate?  I don't even know if that's it.  Anyway, Bear's mom strikes up a conversation with me about how I probably don't have to lift weights with the Harper work-out.  And, I got to thinking, why am I not friends with her?  She lives a couple doors down, has a shepherd, is friendly, runs, seems about my age...where's the problem?  But do I say more than a couple sentences?  No.  Admittedly, Harper's still barking at Bear, but I probably could have made more of an effort.  FAIL #1

Break in the action, but at this point, Harper startles a squirrel out into the road where it gets hit by a car and dies.  I start crying.  So now, I'm bummed at my friend failure, crying over a squirrel, and walking a very vocal dog.  Yeah, I look approachable.  

Ok, now we're at the park.  I see another my-age woman entering the park with a fluffy little purse dog.  I get nervous.  These are the people that always get paranoid that my mean, giant shepherd is going to eat their little angel.  In contrast to that scenario, though, Bitsy yanks the leash away from her mom and runs at us and tries to ATTACK Harper!  It was pretty hilarious.  This little 3 pound miniature poodle jumping up and down trying to get at Harper's throat, and failing.  Harper's just standing there looking at me like, "What the heck is this toy trying to do?"  Bitsy's mom comes running over, apologizes profusely, says, "Bitsy, you're really lucky that's a nice dog", and chats briefly.  But do I follow through at all, or, again, even find out the woman's name?  No.  FAIL #2    

Later, I'm shopping for Chris's birthday present and briefly chat with a woman at the store.  No name, no follow-through.  FAIL #3

I don't even know if this counts, but next, at the grocery store, I felt really fantastic about myself.  I was the last person in line before the cashier went on break.  She was a very young girl, who at MOST was maybe 16.  People kept trying to get in line, and she'd respond pleasantly that she was closing.  This was fine until some jerk of a man tried and threw a fit saying he had lost his place in another line because she couldn't manage to shut her light off.  I told him that that was a lie, as people had tried previously to get in her line, and she had had it off for all of those occasions.  He huffed, said, "Thanks for sticking up for me", and some meaner things under his breath.  I told the girl, "I know you're not allowed to be nasty, but I can."  Later, as I was walking out, he came up and apologized to me for his comments.  Well, at least he realized he was being a scrooge.  I was proud that I had stood up for the girl. 

Alright, so I don't have 5 fails, but I do have enough that I need to try again on another day.  Back to square 1!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Night at the P's

I'm sorry I left the 2 of you without your daily dose of my ramblings.  Ok, there's more than 2.  But, Philly?  I'm not making money here.  Thank goodness I don't live within the city limits where they have been tracking down bloggers.  Truly ridiculous, unless you're one of the blogging divas, and we all know who they are.

Anyway, here is a typical Friday night at our house.  I must warn you, that I am on my 2nd gin and tonic, and it is 5:45 pm.  Typical Fridays involve Chris working a half day, and me coming home to FREEDOM.  He cooks dinner, I get handed a drink, and typically, there is Dave Matthews on in the background.  However, tonight, I won and we plugged in my iPod, which usually means dance music (right now?  It's K$sha - Tic Toc), but immediately, it started playing DMB.  ARGH!  No escape!

Chris has set up a projection screen in the back yard to see at exactly what level of darkness this will work to show the football game.  He is hoping to be able to watch Penn State vs. Alabama on the big screen during his 30th birthday party in a couple weeks.  We'll see.  So far, it's a little faint, but we're hoping to watch the Phillies at 7?  7:30?  Something. 

I am supposed to be feeding the dog.  She is currently spoiled on a diet of boiled chicken and rice since she has an infection of the upper digestive track and is on antibiotics.  This has kept us up all night a few nights this week, and made my only thoughts about dog poo, which I was sure you didn't want to see a post about.

And...images of the night so far:

My biggest wish?  That we actually had friends in the area.  We moved in quite a few months ago now, but really don't know anyone that can just "stop by".  So I ramble to you.  And wish our friends were closer.  Anyway, good night and have one for me!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Native Plants of Pennsylvania

I am late in the season to be doing this post so I apologize for past-their-prime flowers that look like this:

Bee Balm.  It looked impressive before but...well...those days are over.  Next year.

Chris is very adamant that we only plant native plants.  I agree, but would still love some peonies.  These flowers are all from our yard.  The only non-native plants that we've sown are the garden vegetables, Lantana camara, and some tulip bulbs I did early on.  Otherwise...welcome to our prairie.

Black-eyed Susans are some of the easiest plants to get to thrive in southeast PA.  This is one of the benefits of growing native plants.  They are perfectly suited to the soil type and moisture levels of your environment.  You do not have to spend extra resources (time, energy, money, water) getting them to reach their full potential.

Think these are both varieties of aster?  One might be wild geranium (only because I think I planted it somewhere?).  Aster is more of a ground cover, and comes in a variety of colors.

Non-native plants like Lantana camara can even start to take over!  If they somehow show up again next year, we will be overrun.  They sure are gorgeous, though.  Chris tries to claim these are annuals, but I believe he is incorrect.  This is an example of not believing nurseries!  These were in a section labeled native but most certainly are NOT.  Big mistake on my part.

Cone flowers also are exuberant multipliers, and are the rabbits of the plant world.  They also are TALL.  Be careful where you plant them.

This is the bees' FAVORITE.  We have swarms that feast in our bed.  This is Anise Hyssop, and once again, beautiful, but tall.  And not one to plant if you're scared of bees!

Why do you want to plant native plants?  Why WOULDN'T you?
-  Low maintenance -
You don't need to adjust soil, water frequently, fertilize or do any finicky tending.  These plants were MADE to grow right where you are!

- Supports the local ecosystem -
Many people have the mistaken impression that insects are just like us and can adapt what they eat to what is available.  Not true!  With more manicured lawns and foreign plants showing up every day, nature's bounty isn't quite so bountiful to these small but IMPORTANT links in the food chain.  Support your bees, butterflies, and other creepy crawlies, and you're supporting other plant growth, and other, larger animals and birds

- Suppresses non-native "pests" -
How many people enjoy stink bugs?  Kudzu?  Any of the other invasive species?  Do your part to try and make the native culture thrive!

- Cost -
Not only the energy and water costs are reduced, but you can probably get some native plants for free from a neighbor who has had great success!  Once the plants start multiplying, it's easy to share!

- Beauty -
Obviously, I'm a fan of the peony, but these flowers have their own appeal!  There is no reason to think that if you plant native, you are limited to some dull grasses.  Check and see what's local to your area!

Monday, August 23, 2010

30 before 30: #30 Attend a New Church

Have  I found my new church?  Maybe.  There were certainly a lot of pros, but also one very big con. 

I have decided to leave the Catholic church for multiple reasons, but the last straw was their recent pronouncement which equated ordaining women priests to pedophilia.  I didn't particularly agree with the idea that a woman couldn't be the vehicle through which the congregation connected to God in the first place, but to put it equal to such a vile corruption of a child?  Inexcusable. 

I considered a few different churches in my town, and based entirely on websites, the Baptist church seemed the most appealing.  It was an active parish, with many activities, and seemed to be a bit younger than the rest.  That is important, as our town tends to have congregations that are largely elderly.  That was one upside of my Catholic church...youth!  Though, it wasn't very active, and I never really got to know many people there. 

However, Chris was adament that he was not going to consider the Baptist church, and both of us do not agree with the tenant that alcohol in any form is evil (which is even the largest text on their website).  So...onto the next consideration.  And, the logical conclusion that anyone might have predicted: the United Methodist church.  Many members of my family are Methodist, and I spent substantial amounts of time in the church as I grew up. 

I was nervous.  It's always hard going somewhere for the first time when you don't know the culture and are alone (Chris was studying).  I didn't know where to enter, if I was dressed appropriately, how I would be received, etc...  I sat in the car for a good 10 minutes before entering just people watching. 

I entered and was mobbed.  Alright, that's a bit of an overstatement, but I was greeted by at least 5 people.  And then the pastor came over to me after I was seated and chatted.  SHE (!!!) said that it was impossible to hide at the 8:30 am mass, since it was small and everyone knew each other.  This was not meant to exclude me, but to welcome me with open arms.  The service even began with her greeting, and then encouraging everyone to stand up and greet each other for at least 5 minutes.  I found this a little awkward, being new, but it was nice. 

The sermon was even meaningful, and one that I needed to hear.  It involved forgiveness, and one statement particularly struck me.  The pastor said, "Forgiveness that does not count the cost is the ultimate value."  This needs to imprint on my heart.  There is someone in our lives who, for reasons unbenownst to us, has decided to inflict some fairly substantial pain, and then cut us out of his life.  It has proven difficult to grant forgiveness.  It isn't even a circumstance that it matters to anyone aside from Chris and myself, but I need to forget the cost, and let the weight be lifted from me. 

Therefore, the pros: walkable distance, welcoming community, active, varied ages, good music, sermon that spoke to me
The cons: there were no more than 30 people at the service, and I don't know if the other times would be different, this will have to be determined

Regardless of my decision, I think that unlike #20, #30 has been completely satisfied and has been marked off the list!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

30 before 30: #20 Painting

#20 was to create a painting I was willing to hang in my own home...and I'm not sure this qualifies.  I decided to try and take the easy route.  I finished a painting of my little brother that I started a couple years ago, and was so enthusiastic about that I let it sit, taped to my board, since then.  I'm not sure how well the tape will even come off.  Anyway, it's done, or at least finished to the point that I'm willing to do.  I just don't like it.  It's not very good, I don't feel strongly about it, and...blah.  So, I might need to paint another to satisfy this requirement, but we'll see how the time works out.  For now, I present #20:


Friday, August 20, 2010

Top Five Friday: Reasons to Question My Intelligence

Oh, my.  There are so many reasons to wonder if I remembered to turn my brain on in the morning, but here are some classics...starting with today.

5)  As I opened my new bottle of conditioner, only then did I realize that I had used bodywash on my hair for the past couple months.  It actually didn't look as bad as you might have thought.

4)  In 6th grade I went skiing for the first time.  SNOW skiing that is.  My Girl Scout troop convinced me that since I was a decent water-skiier, I would be able to handle snow without difficulty.  This led me to try an intermediate hill on my first run.  I made it down the slope just fine...I just stopped by crashing into a picnic table.

3)  My junior year of high school, I took a nose dive down a 2 story flight of stairs in front of the entire student population heading into the science wing.  I only stopped myself by grabbing onto a friend I saw as I tumbled by, almost taking her with me.  The school cop was also in the stair way, and miraculously, rubber treads appeared on the steps the next day.

2)  I allowed my professor (and advisor) to call me Dana for a full two semesters.  My maiden name is the same name as the actress.  He just got a little confused.  And must have wondered why Dana never turned in her papers for 2 semesters.

1)  Also my junior year of high school, I believe, my father took my brother and I with him on a business trip to Switzerland.  While there, we went skiing in the alps.  I had never been on a t-bar lift, and my father had only been on one a couple times.  My father sat down first, a little skakily, and tipped the lift at an odd angle.  I still tried to load.  This did not go well.  I made it about half way up the slope, then fell off, nowhere near the trail, and had to walk down as people yelled things at me in German.  Maybe it's better that way.  At least I didn't know what they were saying. 

Now that I've owned up to some embarrassing moments showing questionable intelligence...what about you?

Do you have any funny, questionable moments to share?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

30 before 30

I turn 30 on January 4th, 2011.  I have come to the realization that this is pretty soon.  To the point that I cannot do one activity a week off my mid-life bucket list.  In fact, it is more like 2 activities a week if I want to achieve completion by then.  The list started with someone's bucket list that I found online, but I honestly don't remember where.  And...I don't think much of it survived.  These are minor challenges, due to time constraints, but all of which, I am eager to try and accomplish.  So, here is my list, feel free to laugh as I fail miserably.  These are in no particular order, and I do not know when I will cross each one off. 

1. Travel somewhere I've never been

2. Go to a costume party dressed to the nines

3. Identify someone who has inspired me and tell them

4. Climb a mountain

5. Discover a skin care routine that WORKS

6. Perform a kind deed to at least 5 strangers without expecting anything in return

7. Volunteer

8. Talk to 5 random people in the hopes of becoming friends

9. Experience a sunrise

10. Go stargazing

11. Plant a tree

12. Take the GRE

13. Throw a party

14. Go to a driving range

15. Learn wine appreciation

16. Achieve my ideal weight (125)

17. Learn to play the guitar

18. Take up dancing

19. Run a 10k

20. Complete a painting I’m willing to hang in my own home (instead of just my parents')

21. Improve flexibility so I can touch my toes.  (Honestly, nowhere close)

22. Redecorate a room

23. Bake a cake and decorate it WELL

24. Join a book club

25. Go vegetarian for a full month. No cheating.

26. Go skiing

27. Organize a picnic outing

28. Read at least one book a month.

29. Tell your parents and siblings that you love them.

30. Attend a different church

Honestly, the list is pretty staggering.  I don't know how I'll make it through it.  But, it's supposed to be a challenge, right?  And...just for kicks, my MoH just posted this picture from a decade ago, so I'll share how much we've grown since then.  Here's to growing older and wiser!

Making Memories: Wedding Quilt

In anticipation of our wedding, Chris and I decided we did not want the traditional guest book.  We felt that too often it gets pushed into the depths of a bookcase and never looked at again.  We wanted to treasure the well-wishes of our family and friends, and therefore decided on a quilt. 

It helps that Chris's mother is an avid and talented quilter.  She has taught me a bit, but I've only pulled off one so far.  As frequently happens, she had me design it, and help choose fabrics and colors.  (I'll have to show your our master's bed quilt she made.  Oh, she did not think that the color and design would work, but it's now one of her favorite pieces.)  I assisted the concept by embroidering the center square.

I was very pleased with how it turned out, and it continued the colors and butterfly theme from the wedding.  The shades of the colors are obviously a little more subdued, though, just so that they would work in our house. 

What was so special about this, was that guests were invited to sign the white squares of the quilt will well-wishes, thoughts, and memories of the day.  Some people, gave advice:

Much appreciated, Cathy!!!

Some people voiced their football opinions:

And, finally, my Aunt Polly can be relied upon to tell us to get on having kids:

This is quite possibly one of my most treasured possessions now and is hung prominently in our guest room.  Thank you so much Mrs. P!!!  (and everyone who wrote comments)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Harper is in Trouble

To tell the story, I have to admit that, yes, I'm a bum and was still bra-less and in my pajamas at 11am.  Embarassing but true.  I was just doing laundry, sue me.  Chris was outside with the dog digging the area to put a sidewalk in between the driveway and the concrete pad by our side door.  He had to slightly open the gate to get that section dug. 

Harper LOVES cats.  No, she doesn't want to eat them, like everything else, she wants to play with them.    She saw one outside the gate and chased after it.  I was upstairs and heard Chris screaming at her.  I ran down the flights of stairs, and out the door...in my shorts, tanktop, and ...way too much jiggling.  Harper had already made it across the street into our neighbor's yard.

So now, we have a dog, who's in heat, that's faster than an Olympic sprinter, not wearing her collar that has tags on it, and loose in the neighborhood.  We both take off after her.  Chris all comfortable in his sneakers and clothing, and me?  Well, barefoot, booty shorts, and the rest. 

She ran towards the shopping plaza.  Oh, crap.  First, she headed into the woods next to the grocery store, and towards the clearing.  Chris suggested that I run out across the parking lot, and try and head her off at the pass.  I suggested that I don't want to run in public in my current state.  But he didn't bother to go up there, either.  Rather follows me, as I sprint across the grass, sticks, leaves, and entirely too much garbage...barefoot. 

It was starting to hurt, and Harper went down into a mucky culvert.  This is HEAPED with garbage, and I had images of stepping on an infected needle.  At this point, yes, I took another path to trap her from the other side.  But there were no grocery shoppers to witness.  She started to turn away from me, and I took one more mighty sprint and managed to grab her.  Chris then came up, furious, picked her up and carried her the block home.  I came upstairs to vent and blog this.  After putting her diaper back on.  Serves you right, bratty girl.

Oh, final note.  She fell down the stairs Wednesday night and hurt her front, right leg.  So you'd think she'd be slower...  God help us if she ever gets out not injured!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Top Five Friday: Running Songs

Since I have been absolutely lazy this week, I thought I'd remind myself of my favorite songs from my playlist that get my legs moving.  And share them with you.  Be warned...I have entirely random taste. 

5. Bartender - Hed PE
Why?  No real reason.  It's not the greatest beat to run to, but it always got me pumped to go out...so I still run to it.

4. Kiss Kiss - Chris Brown
Ok, I know we're all supposed to hate Chris Brown.  But I LOVE this song.  Always have.  And it's a great beat to run to.  If it wasn't Chris Brown?  This song would probably be higher than 4.

3. Easy - Paula DeAnda
Love this because it has a great beat, makes me feel good about myself, and implies that what I'm doing is "Easy".  Ha!  Oh, and it features Bow Wow who is Cbus born and bred.

2. New Shoes - Paolo Nutini
Just quirky and delicious.  Also feels appropriate for running because of the "shoes" idea.

1.  Rompe - Daddy Yankee
Ok, I have an unabashed love of Daddy Yankee and Pitbull, and yet do not speak Spanish.  I also have a bad habit of singing along to my music and/or dancing while on the treadmill.  It's lovely to see.  Anyway, I'm sure I make up words and may be saying something like "Let's go eat a radio" or something as ridiculous.  Anyway.  Love it.

And for good measure?  My favorite album to run to in its entirety is "The Sickness" by Disturbed. 

Do you have favorite running songs?  I always am looking for new ones!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bean Bag Board Bonanza

We are holding them up for assembly and photos.  They have short legs so that they sit on the typical low slant.

These boards were created in early July, but I never got around to posting them.  I have a slight problem with the name.  Yes, they're "cornhole" boards, but I feel entirely too much like Beevus and/or Butthead saying it.  Oh well.  Whatever you want to call them, I am truly excellent at the game.  No false modesty here.  The entire time we played at Buffett, my team only lost once. 

Yes, there were some mixed reactions.  Obviously, we decided to honor both Ohio State and Penn State.  We had a few passers-by stop and comment on their preference.  Actually on both sides!  It was a pleasant surprise to run into OSU alums in the Philly area!

I am currently in the process of designing and constructing two more sets.  One for us, one for some friends.  We like these boards, but constructed them out of 3/4" plywood, and they are quite heavy.  These will be kept permanently at our home, and we will manufacture a new set out of 1/2" plywood for tailgating.

The other change we would make is to use a router to cut the hole in the board.  Chris was very frustrated that the circle isn't perfect after using a jigsaw to cut it out.  I drew the circle with a homemade compass made from a pencil tied to a string.

As for painting the logos, I absolutely cheated.  I printed out logos on the computer, cut them out with an X-acto knife, traced them, taped out the shape, and painted it.  It's not as bad as using a sticker, but I can't claim much artistic talent.  Chris is wanting me to paint murals on round two, so you'll get to see what talent I may or may not have soon!

Monday, August 9, 2010


I just ran across some old photos that I never posted, so why not?  Harper's finally well behaved enough that I can look back at puppy-hood with fond amusement.  She no longer chews the coffee table until we have to cover it with hot sauce.  She is fairly well behaved on a leash (We'll ignore her tendency to bark at other dogs to say hi.  People don't interpret GSD barking positively.).  We're running out of tricks to teach her.  Can't wait for her to turn 1 so we can start agility.  She's already 10 MONTHS.  Can't believe it.  So...I'm getting that urge for something small and cuddly.  Chris was very nervous when he got texted pictures of a kitten a couple days ago.  You better believe I was close to bringing her home.  "Her name was Lola"...yes, I sang that for days.  Good thing I didn't.  Monster isn't nice to other cats. 

Look how tiny she was!!!  I can't get over it. 

To today...she's a bohemoth!

We reached a very big milestone yesterday.  She finally went into heat!  Now, don't worry, we are not breeding her or being irresponsible.  Harper was not fully developed as a puppy, so had a series of urinary tract infections.  When this happens, both our vet and breeder recommended that she go through one cycle so that she can develop past this issue. 

How are we dealing with it?  Currently, we blocked off the kitchen with a sofa (I will have to take a picture, it's funny) and she hangs out there.  Thank goodness we got the backyard fenced because it will be a lifesaver (though she can't be out there alone).  The part I'm the most worried about is walking her.  It has to happen.  She has too much energy to be cooped up for THREE WEEKS.  I just will be choosing off times, off routes, and avoiding dogs at all costs.  I'd heard about using tighty-whities with pads (and a hole cut in the back) to help keep your house a little clean, but my co-worker just told me that they make doggie diapers now, too!  I may be stopping by a pet store on the way home!

Moving on, in the same file with the puppy photos, we took some that might get one of Chris's groomsmen in trouble (sorry!).  It was so cute and funny, though.  He and his son came over to take our Christmas photo, and his toddler was jealous of the dog chasing the ball...so dad sent him to fetch various dog toys.  Here are a couple of shots of him hanging out in the crate.  We were dying!

Isn't it great how memories get so much shinier the more time goes by?

Weekend in Review

Ok, so...it's really a bunch of boring stuff and then we went to a Buffett concert. 

Friday?  I was supposed to run 5 miles.  I got home and Chris was already on the patio drinking margaritas.  I decided that was a better idea than running.

Saturday morning?  I got up early and went to the gym.  Did not make it 5 miles.  Did 3 and then lifted.  We then took the dog to the farmer's market, and prepped for the tailgate.  Shammah and Cathy stopped by with her parents because they think they are in love with our little town.  We love people moving here!  Increase the property value!  We are definitely the up-and-coming suburb of Philly.  Though...are we close enough to count as a suburb?

Saturday afternoon/evening?  Buffett tailgate and concert.  Very hot out, but we still had a blast.  We forgot all our decorations, but at least remembered the tents, chairs, cornhole boards, food, and Cathy had leis.  All the important stuff. 

Making sure there's a Jen pic in this round.  :)

We do not know this dude, but he slept in front of us the entire concert, and had to be escourted out by security.  Way to waste a concert ticket!

Sunday?  Pretty generic.  Grocery store, Michael's, Pet Smart, Lowes, chores.  Nutin exciting.  I was SUPPOSED to go golfing for my very first time ever with some friends' husbands, and was super excited, but decided that I had lifted my back too much the day before, and I'd be able to rotate about as much as a tree trunk.  Sigh. 

Well, there you go!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend Preview

I'll do a better weekend in review tomorrow, but here's a quick glipse of the hot, sweaty messes that we were after tailgaiting all day and then concert-ing all night.  Jen's missing but that's what she gets for taking the picture.  Love ya, hun!

Fins to the Left!

(And...yes I'm wearing the same shirt as a couple days ago.  Another downfall of posting your outfits.  I swear it was clean.)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

So you think you're vegetarian?

Oh, I am the worst role model, I really am.  I try, I stop, I start, I try again.  The first time I became a vegetarian I was 8 years old.  My family went out to eat at a Greek restaurant and there was a pig roasting on a spit in the window.  Not only did I not eat meat that night, but for some period of time that I don't recall.  Also, I have never been to a pig roast where I had to see the spit since.  I even skipped a friend's graduation party because of it.  I wasn't a vegetarian at the time, but I couldn't handle it.  I did go to the luau on my honeymoon but did not go anywhere near the pit.  Chris went and took pictures of the carving, but I stayed at the table.

It didn't seem unusual to me, even at that early age, because I had an aunt, whom I adored, that was vegetarian, and my immediate family didn't over-indulge.  I was one of the few elementary-schoolers bringing hummus for lunch in the early 80's.  I was teased mercilessly, but it's delicious, so phooey on you mean little rugrats. 

The second serious attempt I made, which fared a little better, and lasted a good part of two years, was in 7th grade.  I was not a nice vegetarian at this point.  I made horrible comments to my friends at lunch, and they probably should have just left me to eat on my own.  Sorry, guys!  It was middle school.

I don't need to go into my on-and-off again routine since then.  It's embarrassing and would take up entirely too much room.  Needless to say that while I feel that it would greatly benefit my health and my sanity, I'm not always able to follow through.  My cholesterol's too high, my stomach can't process animal fats or lactose, we try to be environmental, and I generally am disturbed by the idea of eating meat.  You'd think this would be enough reasons.

Where am I today?  For about a month I've been pretty good.  There have been a couple meat meals.  No excuses, it happened.  There's also still a little fish in my life.  Not sure that's going away any time soon.  Not much, but maybe once a week.

Chris has been very supportive.  He's always been open to vegetarian meals about 4 dinners a week.  For the other 3, we usually eat out once, and the other two we supplement a meal in some way.  Either we grill, and he has meat and I have a veggie or veggie burger, or there is a side of animal protein that can be added to his stir-fry, tacos, etc...  It has actually been working fairly well.  His mother was startled though to learn that her son didn't have meat for dinner half the time.  I still don't think she believes it's possible.

I'm still going to try.  And hopefully it will become easier.  Generally, I feel so much better when I'm on the bandwagon, that it shouldn't be as much of a struggle as it is.  One day at a time.      

Friday, August 6, 2010

Top Five Friday: Processed Foods

This is a challenge hosted every Friday by a pretty funny gal.  Adorkable Annie

Because I enjoy embarrassing myself and showing my true hypocrisy, here are my top 5 favorite processed foods: 

5)  Cheez-its - This obsession came back to smack me when I read Sara's amazing post about how she makes her own cheesy crackers.  Go check it out: The Splendidly Imperfect Miss M

4)  Starburst Jelly Beans - I am not a big sweets person, but these?  I will IV.  I usually just get them around Easter.  But, that's just a lucky hang-up I have.  Otherwise, I'd be 300 pounds.

3)  Diet Coke - Forget ever considering me healthy.  I love my aspartame. 

2)  Cheerios - Yes, I am still 3 and love having a little baggie of delicious whole-grain O's to munch on.  Or for breakfast with bananas or peaches and soy milk.  They get us young. 

1)  Tostitos Tortilla Chips - Crunchy, salty, delicious.  I will eat them until my lips crack open and bleed and my tongue goes numb.  I will eat them with salsa, guac, in nacho form, plain...heck I'd probably put chocolate sauce on them if someone dared me.

Where do you get your preservatives?

TROUBLE with a capital T

We do not like Sears.  Not one little bit.  We have had too many issues to count.  The current issue involves our lawn mower.  When we moved into the new house last July, we needed something to trim our tiny little 0.1 acre.  No joke.  Postage-stamp size yard.  We bought an admittedly cheap Craftsman, but really?  Postage stamp.  It died within a week.  7 days.  Some itty bitty number of hours.  We took it back to Sears, and they DID replace that hunk-o-junk.  With the same model.  Which they told us had been discontinued.  Yes, BRIGHT RED lights should have been flashing.

Jump forward one year.  It died again.  OHHHH were we peeved.  I even refused to go to Sears with Chris because I knew there would be yelling and nastiness.  They tried to refuse to do anything, but eventually Chris's logical argument of "There is a 2 year warranty included on this mower" won.  Though they did still warn us that they might charge us if it wasn't a manufacturer's defect.  BAH

Chris is now studying for test number 5 million 32.  Therefore, I get all the fun little errands.  I went to pick up the lawnmower and took the dog with me.  However, because she was so scared of the loud growly thing, she refused to sit in the back with it, after it had been loaded in the car.  She immediately jumped up front and refused to move.  I immediately  called Chris and told him he had to take pictures of this ridiculousness when we pulled in. 


Oh, and isn't my new baby (the car) pretty?  I'm still loving it.  Still need to write about the wonders of the Chevy Traverse.  Later.

Do you have any stores you're loving or hating right now?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chris has Broken Me

It is inevitable in marriage that we will change and evolve.  Some of interests will grow together, and some will grow apart.  It is all the flux that will be...

Ok, this is really a very shallow post, so I'll drop the pretense.  I don't think I like my hair straight anymore!!!  This is really disheartening because I have fought Chris on not wanting to leave it in its natural, curly state for years!  So...we'll see when I decide that it's time to try it out again, but this may be the last flat-ironing for awhile:

Oh, and see what I mean about hippie maternity wear?  Sheesh.  Anyway, fine.  Chris, YOU WIN.

Secret Reader

Every blogger knows that she has secret readers.  Sometimes we have suspicions who they might be, and other times, they are just numbers that appear on our counters.  And sometimes we find out we are absolutely wrong when someone we assume had been reading for awhile tells you they just started and are enjoying it!  (which means I have a city out there that completely mystifies me)

This is not my attempt to flush all of you out.  I love trying to guess who you are.  This IS my time to confess, though.  I am a frequent commenter on blogs.  But, I don't usually comment on blogs of people I know.  Or rather knew.  And don't talk to anymore, usually for innocent reasons.  Two prime examples?  And two blogs worth reading?

A Quick Remark - Anhtuan's insightful blog which also includes a captivating saga about his parents' journey to the United States during the Vietnam war.  

The Mother Runner - Liz (ok, I don't know Liz, but she's married to my HS friend Micah)'s take on running, healthy living, and raising her two adorable boys.

I also don't comment on the absolute best blog that I read.  This is because NO ONE comments on this blog.  I find it impossible to believe that no one else reads, because Ruth is so stinkin' funny.  She also has twin daughters named Harper and Piper, which, obviously are the names of my dog and my grandparents' dog, so just gotta love it.  Go over and check out:

So, there's my confession.  I could confess to a lot more, but small steps people, small steps.

Book Reviews

This is a highly unsatisfying post, since one book I did not like very much, and one I'm not quite finished with.  Sometimes it happens.

Killer Angels by Michael Shaara 
I liked this book exactly as much as I thought I would.  I apologize to the Pulitzer committee.  Was it well written?  Absolutely.  Historically accurate?  As far as I know.  Something a large portion of the population would enjoy?  Most definitely.  Me?  Nuh uh.

Why didn't I like this?  For 3 very important reasons.  1)  I know how Gettysburg turned out.  No surprises there.  2)  I watched the movie Glory, which is pretty true to the book.  3)  I just don't like war books.

If you like war books, and don't mind knowing how things are going to end, go for it.  Just not my cup of tea.
Grade:  C

  The Jester by James Patterson & Andrew Gross
Full disclosure: I have not finished this book yet.  Why?  I was actually listening to a book on tape in the car during our long road trip, and once at home, it's hard to convince yourself to put on the CD's, when there are paper books at hand.

HOWEVER, I like this book so far.  It speaks to the politics behind the crusades, and one man's individual tribulations after his lord seeks to punish him for abandoning his serf-ship (is that a word?) to go fight.  He returns to find that his wife and son have been murdered and enters the court of the evil lord as a jester to reek havoc.  Entertaining, though gruesome at times.

The oddest note I have about this book is that, once again, I have more sympathy with animals dying than humans.  I suppose this was true in Killer Angels, too, because I found the horses dying on the battlefield heart-wrenching.  I don't know why I have the tendency to over-connect with the animals, but not the humans.  Perhaps that it would just touch too close to home to connect to the humans as well?  I can't answer this.  I just know that this was even true as a child when I wasn't able to make it through Bambi or White Fang because I was too upset by the mother deer dying and the dog fighting scenes.

Back to the book:
Grade: B+

Do you have trouble with animals dying in books and movies?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Megan at Best of Fates just inspired me to make another piece of clothing.  I don't know what yet, but her bridesmaid's dress was beautiful.  The last time I sewed an item of clothing, it was for my Halloween costume in 2005. 

Back in those days, I was on the social committee for the Inter-Professional Council.  Which means I helped throw all the big parties for those of us who had spent way too much time in school.  That picture, other than making me look like a midget (and I was wearing HIGH heels), is with a doctor (our president) and a dentist (our secretary or treasurer?  Can't remember).  Ah memories.  This party was interesting because even though we had reserved hundreds of kegs of beer (no, not an exaggeration), we had run out and the bar was trying to charge the party-goers who had paid a cover charge for unlimited drinks.  Then my ex got on stage and was dancing inappropriately, and I was assigned to retrieve him.  It was an...interesting night.

Once upon a time, I was a prolific seamstress and created costumes for theater productions.  That was a long time ago.  Loved it, though.

Anyway, back to the sewing.  I think Halloween this year would be a good goal.  There will be a new outfit completed and worn to the embarrassment of all around me.       

Who me?

My grandparents have a friend named Barbara.  Barbara is the stereotypical image of a German woman in her 70's.  She is tall, fair, and powerful.  She also has an incredibly effusive personality, and can sometimes overwhelm those around her with her exuberance.  She has always been quite fond of my Grandfather.

One morning this past weekend, as Chris and I were walking Harper, we passed Barbara's house, and she rushed out to greet us, coo over the dog, and join us on our morning jaunt.  As we approached my grandparents' cottage, Harper ran over to my Grandfather to give him a big lick on his head at the same moment that Barbara called out, "Good morning, George!"  Without pause, my Grandfather gushed, "Hi, Baby!"...in reference to the dog.  Barbara was so startled that for a moment she was actually at a loss for words.   

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Idea of Vacation

My grandparents have a house on a lake in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire.  It is heaven on earth to me.  I know that this would not be the case for everyone, and even my brother is not quite as enthusiastic.  There are two kinds of vacationers.  Those who what to go, see, do, and those that want quiet relaxation.  I am part of the later camp.  Not that there isn't a lot to do on the lake!  It is merely low key.  You can swim, kayak, hike, read, pick blueberries...I could go on.  What you can NOT do is go to a four star restaurant and a Broadway show. 

But why would I want that when I have this peaceful scene right out the front door?  I try and make it up every year, but as all of the family has dispersed to parts farther and farther away from New England, it gets difficult.  I have missed 3 years since I was born.  One of them being last year.  I was devastated.  This year, I made it up, and was able to see both my parents and grandparents while I was there. 

I'm sure they'll love me for the not-so-fantastic pictures of all of them.  Everyone was doing really well!  We were amazed when we saw my mom.  Certainly made it easier to enjoy the week fully. 

Our little girl LOVED the lake.  In fact, we could barely keep her out of it.  Within seconds of arriving, she was so excited that she ran THROUGH a fence.  She has some nice cuts on her face now.  And we always tried to claim she was a bright dog. 

The scotties were alright with her.  Roonie (the chubbier one) was not a big fan.  He'd nip and squeal, but at the same time try and always be by her side.  It got better eventually.  Piper (the one in the solo shot) really liked Harper, but is just too old a lady to do much playing.  Was a little sad. 

Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better weekend.