Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our new car family, part 1

So way (waaayyy) back in November I had a little fender bender (actually, it was a frame bender; the fender looked fine) in Sandy.  The week after, J's car Irene developed some troubles that quickly turned into full-blown transmission failure.  We spent a week driving Terri while Sandy and Irene shared side-by-side bays at our mechanic.  Unfortunately, Irene couldn't be easily (or inexpensively) saved.  After a bit of haggling with the Honda dealership, we brought home Kate.  Sandy came home to a new driveway-mate.  Throughout December and January, Sandy continued to have problems (not related to the fender bender).  Oil leaks, unexplained stalling, a flat tire, and who knows what else followed.  My nerves were frayed.  We gave up.  Sandy never came home from the mechanic, and we bought another new car (new to us, mind you; not 'new' in either case).  The new car needed to be shipped in from Pennsylvania, so the dealer loaned me an old Toyota Camry.  I drove her for a week and a half, and felt compelled to name her Cammie 2, after one of my college girlfriend's Camry (actually, they probably came off the line together!).  On Monday, I finally picked up my new car.

Eek, I'm having trouble finding good pics of Irene and Sandy, and there's a thunderstorm on the way.  I'll be back with pictures of them later!

Our driveway looks a little different.  Four months ago, we had a dark red convertible and dark blue large-ish sedan in the driveway.  Today, we have two small sedans, one silver and the other dark grey.  They look nice with the new black shutters.

I thought I'd do a little photo montage of the cars that have been part of our family for the past several months.  I'll hold off on pictures of the new cars til next week, out of respect to Sandy and Irene (and Terri and Cammie 2).
Cammie 2
Are we crazy?  I can't imagine we're the only folks who name their cars...or talk nice to their cars...or get a little weepy when sitting in our cars for the last time?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Black Shutters!

One of the holdups to our mortgage refi was a need to paint our exterior woodwork.  J and I were hesitant to spend lots of money painting woodwork that will be replaced this spring, but I was hesitant to put J (or me) on an extension ladder to do the work ourselves.  We got a couple of quotes and had the painter out last Thursday to do the work (and back on Saturday, but that's another story).  Since we'd already agreed to pay someone to paint the trim, it seemed logical to throw the shutters into the job.  You remember the shutters, the green ones that stand out like sore thumbs since we've swapped out everything else to black?

Well, they now match the front door!  And I have to admit that I'm thrilled that we didn't have to paint them ourselves!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday smells like...Table Three Ten

So I wrote a long post last night at the Opera (yeah, I totally had to say it that way) about Table Three Ten, where J and I had dinner before walking over to see Falstaff at the Lexington Opera House.  Then, just when I was ready to post, my finger apparently hit the wrong area of the screen and the whole post disappeared.  I hit back, I hit forward, I tried everything.  It hadn't saved, and my post was gone.  And y'all, it was a good post.  I was incredibly bummed.  On a positive note, there is one benefit to the loss.  I got J to install Chrome for me, which allows me to post from my laptop again.  And that allows me to include pictures from our meal last night!

J had the mussels with chorizo in a Nicaraguan lager broth.

I had a strip steak with mashed potatoes and smoked Kentucky shiitake mushrooms.  The smoked mushrooms absolutely made the meal.

For our appetizer, we had a charcuterie plate of chorizo, prosciutto, and Broadbent Country Ham (from down in my part of the world!).  Now, I'm not typically a fan of country ham, but this preparation (sliced very thinly) was so creamy and delicious!

We turned down the dessert options (though the sorghum gelato sounded delicious!) and instead took a walk around the block with a stop at Starbucks for hot chocolates.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday--February 23

Hi everyone! I'm having trOuble with Blogger, so my last couple of posts didn't post. I'm trying to type one on my cell and see if that helps. I'll work on the Blogger issue this weekend.

So this week, J and I realized that we've been letting the busy, stressful process of dealing with cars and work and mortgage companies get us down. We've felt busier than usual, and that busyness has resulted in a pretty sad MP. Once we realized it, we also realized (I realized) that we've not been counting our blessings. So it's back to that, with a renewed sense of hope. This week, we're thankful that, despite our tight finances, it took us a week to realize that J double paid a utility bill. How awesome is that?
I'm thankful, too, for the gorgeous weather we've been having. I took a walk Monday afternoon with B, superman and baby E. Today I learned that we may get the Exterior painting we need to finish our refi done this week. Who would have thought that we'd have warm enough weather in February to paint outside??

What are you thankful for this week?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fitness Friday--February 17

Happy Friday!

Physical Fitness.  My Friday is totally not the last day of the week since I'm going to a lock-in for our diocesan youth tonight, leaving early tomorrow to set up an a women's day at church, then leaving that early to head to NKY for a cupcake making event with the DAR Juniors.  My eating hasn't been great this week, but it's been decent (better than last week!), and I'm a little worried that my Friday night/Saturday is going to hijack that.  Even after last week's awful week of eating, I managed to lose 0.2 lb last week.  With luck (well, with good eating this weekend) I'm on target to lose another 0.4 lb this week.  That will put me at my 5% weight loss since Jan 2.  Woohoo!

Fiscal Fitness.  J and I did our taxes last week, and now we're just waiting for the refund.  Part of the refund will go towards our gutters, but the bulk of it is going toward my peace of mind.  We decided last week that I can't keep driving Sandy.  J was a real trooper about driving her for me, but she was stalling out for him, too.  On Monday, he tried to take her in to the mechanic, but a flat tire thwarted that effort.  Thank goodness for AAA!  After several days at the shop with no progress made toward identifying the problem, we gave up and traded her in.  Her replacement, a much more reliable and practical Toyota Corolla, arrives next week.

How are you doing toward meeting your fitness goals this year?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


The One Little Word class I'm taking talks about the idea of invitation.  The idea is this:  Think about what you want to invite into your life, and you'll be more open to it happening.  I'm not sure how well I'm doing with respect to my word, but I've been inviting snow for a few months now with my snowman flag out front.  Last week, I commented to my mom that I should just take it down.  Then, the invitation was answered:

In the last week, we've more than doubled our snowfall for the season.  It was nice to finally get a few snowy day pics for our albums.  And now I think it's time to take the flag down!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Robot Cake Love

Ugh!  I've no idea what's wrong with Blogger, but posts just haven't been posting this week!  Here's Tuesday's post, and I'l be back with Wednesday's soon!

I'm so excited to share this cake with y'all.  When B mentioned that Superman's birthday party would have a robot theme, I immediately did a Google Image search for robot cakes.  They fall into two categories: flat, almost 2-D cakes and 3-D carved upright cakes.  When a friend gave me a ball-shaped cake pan, I knew that Superman would be receiving an unright robot cake.  I sketched my idea and sent it to B for approval.

With her blessing, I figured out the scale, bought a ton of cake mix and powdered sugar, and went to work.  The result was a cake slightly larger than I'd intended, but just as cute.

Some close ups of his model number (the birthday boy's initials and age) and the satellite dish on top of his head.  The center pole of the satellite dish was actually a sparkler candle that re-lit a few times when blown out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

This little light of mine...

I mentioned last Friday that we're refinancing, and we're currently in the stage of that process where the mortgage company makes you jump through hoops to secure the amazing interest rate they're dangling in front of you.  Last week they told us that we need new lights for our deck.  Actually, that's not completely true.  They told us we needed lights.  Previously, it looked like this:

I'd point out that this is an old picture (it is), but in the name of keeping it real, it doesn't really matter.  The deck pretty much still looks like this.  Anyhow, see the tiny black dots on each side of the back door?  That's where there used to be lights.  As in, we took them down in 2009 when we repainted the back of the house.  I neatly capped off the electrical wires, but they were still 'technically' holes in the wall.  Apparently the mortgage company frowns on that.

So I went out and bought two lights that match the one we put on the front porch last summer.  Since I switched out the front porch light myself, I assumed I could do the back as well. (cue laughter by those of you who have been reading long enough to know what happens next)  So...the light is designed to hang on a bracket.  The bracket is designed to screw into the electrical box.  Guess who didn't have electrical boxes?  Why yes, the electrical wires I neatly capped off were just hanging out in the open cavity of the wall with nothing actually holding them in place.  Two points if you can guess who masterminded that one!

I called Bob the Electrician who came out the next day and installed boxes for me.  He also (because he's awesome) offered to go ahead and hook up the lights for me.  Total time: maybe thirty minutes (from pulling in the driveway to flipping the switch).  Total time spent trying to figure out why only one light came on/figuring out that Previous Owner probably cut the wire when he re-wired the kitchen and covered it up?  Another hour.  At that point it was getting close to five and I suggested he just make it look pretty and come back another day to cut bigger holes in my wall.  Thanks Previous Owner.  So here it is looking pretty.

Title:  I told you I was on a roll, and this one was too good to pass up.  "This Little Light of Mine", the children's song based on Matthew 5.  Or maybe Luke 11.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

D.J. Turn it up!

I'm writing this so late on Sunday that the odds are great you won't find it until Monday.  Which makes Monday a two-fer.  You're welcome.

Anyhow, I mentioned plenty of times that last week was a huge bummer of a week.  Luckily, by Friday afternoon it started to turn around.  My dear friend K spent half of her day off playing chauffeur so I could get some grocery shopping done, then dropped back by that evening to take me out to dinner with her and our friend BSB (not to be confused with SWB!).  I met K and BSB when I was working for Girl Scouts and we frequently had lunch dates to bitch about fundraising and volunteers and our respective non-profits. BSB moved to Cleveland last fall when her husband was transferred and she is now a SAHM to her 2.5 year old son and five month old daughter.  Based on the hilarious stories she shared over dinner and Orange Leaf, I suspect she'll be back to work soon!

My Saturday DAR meeting was cancelled due to the weather (any amount of snow and old ladies just don't mix), so I spent the day baking and decorating a cake for a very special six-year-old.  J and I hit the birthday party, watched a movie (Easy A--we'll be giving it four stars on Netflix) and the UK game, and called it a night. 

This morning, my anxiety flared back up.  We had a meeting with the parents of my middle schoolers about attendance.  I know, Rational JE knows, that this wasn't something to be worried about.  Irrational JE, however, was certain that the meeting was going to go poorly.  Visions of me, tarred and feathered, while the townspeople yelled things like "we'd bring our kids to Sunday School if only she wasn't the teacher" ran through my head. 

J, being the awesome husband he is, decided to take my mind off the meeting as we drove to church.  Thanks to his ipod, we listened to a series of totally pop-py girl power songs all the way to church.  And yes, there was car-dancing.  By both of us.  I can only imagine what the other folks on Man O' War thought of us.  Hopefully they saw we were having a great time and turned their own radios up. 

Oh, and the meeting?  It was fine.  Of course.

Title:  Wow, it's been a while since I used a song lyric for a title!  This one is from Ke$ha's We R Who We R, aka Song Two on our playlist.  We also listened to Katie Perry's Firework and Liz Phair's Extraordinary

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fitness Friday--February 10

Five weeks on WW and I'm officially down ten pounds!  I mentioned my struggles with hormones this week which have totally led to some unhealthy eating, but I still think I'm on target to hit my 5% weight loss goal on Monday.  I think the best thing about WW is that it makes me stop and think.  Tuesday afternoon I called J and commented that I really wanted mac & cheese, with a side of mashed potatoes and chocolate for dessert.  While my eventual choices (beef snack bites, hummus and meringues) weren't the greatest nutritional choices ever, they were far more balanced than my initial cravings.

With regard to our fiscal fitness, well... Ugh.  I highly recommend refinancing in this market.  I really do.  That said, it's a bit of a nightmare.  Between trying to keep a large sum of money in pretty liquid status so that it is readily available if we ever get to closing and also having smaller, but still significant to us, sums available for the various random repair jobs the mortgage company keeps tossing our way, it's getting a little stressful.  Yes, those record-low interest rates are a great carrot, but good grief!  Ask me again in a month.  Hopefully we'll be through this by then.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday--February 9

Let me preface this post by saying I've been a bit of a hormonal mess this week.

Last fall, I attended a meeting at work where Fr. J shared a story about a row of dominos.  One domino became anxiety-ridden and began to quiver.  When the stress became too much for the domino, it fell over, triggering a reaction that caused several other domios.  The point of the story (or at least, what I got out of the story) was about supporting the dominos around us.  When you work in the non-profit sector, a lot of your work is about supporting the dominos.  This week, I've been the quivering domino.  It would be incredibly easy to just skip m Thankful Thursday post, but since I'm trying to get through the funk, I figure I need to focus on our blessings for a bit.  Here goes:

I'm thankful for J, who has traded cars with me.  Sandy has been stalling for some reason, but not with the consistency necessary to diagnose her.  Our best guesses are all expensive, so we've been trying to avoid just willy-nilly replacing parts.  Unfortunately, that means driving her and paying attention to the common factors when she stalls.  And for someone who doesn't know much about cars beyond an expectation that they work when she gets in them, this is a little anxiety-inducing.  Since it isn't nearly so stressful to J, he's taken over primary diagnosis work for Sandy.

I'm thankful for our electrician, who spent nearly two hours trying to figure out what the PO did to the lights on our deck.  No thanks to PO, of course, who messed up the electrical and then covered it up.

Finally, I'm thankful for Fr. J, who does an awesome job of reminding me that I'm meeting his expectations at work, and exceeding most of our parishoners expectations.  I've definitely needed that reminder this week.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Limonium on a lovely day

I haven't posted an anniversary bouquet lately, so thought I'd share the flowers I picked up on Monday.  These are two varieties of limonium that I've stuck in a carafe to look pretty while they dry.  I'd like to make them into a dried flower arrangement for our guest room so they're looking a little unruly (unarranged?) in the mean time.  And yes, I chose to post the picture where the flowers are slightly out of focus because Zep looks so cute and in focus in the background.  He spent the weekend at Keshlynn and came home Monday with a fresh new kerchief!  What you can't see is the tennis ball he dropped just in front of me.  I'm pretty sure this look says something like "Quit messing with the weeds and throw the ball already!"

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nervous Needlepointer

What?  A blog post?  Shock!  Awe! 

Seriously, I realize I've been missing for the last week.  February and March are shaping up to be busy months, and while I'll do my best to pop in on a regular basis, I expect there may be more days that I'm absent than present.  Last week was newsletter week at church which, combined with making it a short week so I could head to WKY Friday morning, made for a whirlwind of a few days that I barely remember! The best part of the whirlwind was the blessed quiet of a long weekend at home.  While the wifi and satellite TV make a trip to the woods not quite the getaway as it used to be, it's still a place of quiet relaxation for me.  While there I made great progress on my first needlepoint project (Yes, I do consider one-fourth of the X part of the project 'great progress', I can't imagine what I'll call it when I'm actually working on the blue part...):

A group of ladies at St.R are needlepointing various religious icons for our Parish Christmas tree, and I wanted to take part.  My contribution, St. Andrew's cross, was the easiest pattern I could find.  I have until July to finish, but hopefully I'll be able to share the finished project (my part of it, at least) much sooner than that!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

One Little Word

So I mentioned last week that I signed up for a class that will help J and I dig into and live our word--Open--for 2012.  This is a scrapbooking class, offered online, with suggested prompts and projects each month (if you'd like to learn more, scroll down to the One Little Word icon below on the right, click that, and learn all you want to know!).  I'm drawn back to the one scrapbook class I took previously, my last semester at Murray (ten years ago).  It didn't take me long to learn that I haven't changed much.  The teacher presents a sample, I look it over, consider it strongly, then get started and create something entirely different using the skills learned in the lesson.  Case in point:

I've started a 4.25 x 6.5 handmade album (the teacher's example is an 8.5 x 11 three-ring binder.  I used three rings...just no binder...) The cover, to demonstrate our word, is made to look like a door which, when opened will have the word "open" pop up in some way (not there yet, but certain it will work.  As a result of my inability to follow directions (I prefer to think of it as creativity and initiative), I've not made it past the 'pre-assignment' much less finished the January assignment.  Yes, the February assignment launches tomorrow.  I figure since I started the class late, I've got time to make it up, too.

Do you take prompts and projects as suggestions to be ignored after you've gleaned the useful information?  Is that a creative trait or just a willfull one?