The Rundown

The silence depressed me.  It wasn’t the silence of silence.  It was my own silence.
– from The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

Yeah, I know: It’s been a while.  It might be a long time again after this, I don’t know.  I’m debating the whole blog thing.

Here’s what’s been up:

This is the closet in the guest room:

Well, that’s one side of the closet.  The other side has luggage and holiday decorations and crap.  Irrelevant to this discussion.  The reason I’m showing you this is because slowly but surely, over the past year or so, I’ve moved clothes from my closet in our room to this closet because I’ve grown out of them and I didn’t want to look at them anymore.  There are still several things in my closet that should go here, but, as you see, I’ve run out of room.  This collection includes: two suits, THE dress, a fitted boy-blue button down down shirt with pearly buttons that looked amazing on me, the pencil skirt I was wearing the day David and I first kissed, this shirt, several awesome pairs of pants, and an untold number of other items of clothing that I would ordinarily wear to work.  Isn’t that terrible?  There’s probably $1000 or more of clothes in there that I can’t wear right now, which is really such a bummer.  The corollary, of course, is that I’ve had to slowly but surely buy bigger clothes, and shopping has become my least favorite activity and hasn’t been cheap.

But hey, let’s look on the bright side, shall we?  I lost two pounds at weigh-in this week, and 1.something last week, and it’s the first time I’ve had two losses in a row in a very long time.  I also tracked everything this week for the first time in forever.  So, maybe things are looking up.  Hopefully, in about 10 pounds or so, I’ll be able to slowly but surely start shopping in the guest room closet!

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I was down in Richmond over Memorial Day weekend, and the Princess (who turned SIX last week and just finished kindergarten) read me a whole book on her own, sounding out the tough words and everything!  I was so proud of her!

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David and I are planning a big vacation for the end of the summer.  We’re flying to Chicago and then taking the train to Seattle – it’s two overnights, so we booked a sleeper compartment (yeah, #9 on the list!).  We’ll spend a couple days in Seattle, then rent a car and drive down the coast, spending one night in Portland and another night somewhere in Oregon.  The we’ll head to San Francisco for several days before flying home.  I cannot wait – I love traveling with David, and this trip is going to be awesome.  Last night, we got baseball tickets – of course – so I get to go to three new stadiums (we’ll see the Twins/Mariners in Seattle, the Rockies/Giants in San Fran, and the Angels/A’s in Oakland)!

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We’re gardening on the balcony again this summer, but I haven’t taken any pictures yet.  Flower-wise, we’ve got petunias, geraniums, and – new this year – snap dragons.  We’ve also got two kinds of tomatoes, spinach, and strawberries.  I can’t wait to see how everything comes out!

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. . . Really?  It’s been almost a month since I posted, and that’s all I can come up with?  I sure am boring, I guess.  Well, there’s one other thing I’ve done that I’m very excited about, but I’m not really supposed to talk about it, so . . . sorry!

Choose My Bicycle!

The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets.
– Christopher Morley

David had to go to the bike store today to get reflectors put on and I met him there after I went to the movies (The Losers = awesome).  I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a new bike for a little while, and we just signed up for a 19-mile ride at the end of the month, so now is as good a time as any.  I found two that I really liked and test rode them both.  First, the Breezer Citizen:

Pros:  It’s SO cute, it comes with fenders, a chain guard (and I usually ride in pants, so that’s useful), automatic lights on the front and back (pedal powered), the spring-loaded basket holder on the back, 3-speed on the handle bars (like a motorcycle), and a bell. I can imagine myself tooling around town, to the farmer’s market and stuff, in this adorable but durable bike.

Cons: Maybe it’s not so sporty for the kind of riding we do (road and trail riding; no off-road stuff), though the guy at the bike shop said it should do just fine.  I also worry maybe three speeds isn’t enough, though I tested them all on my test ride (and I don’t use anywhere near all of the gears on my current 10-speed).  As a womens bike, it only has one place for a water bottle cage.  Also, I don’t love the color (it’s more yellowy-cream than this picture shows) and it’s the only color it comes in this model year.

Next up, the Marin San Rafael:

Pros: It’s definitely a good bike for the riding we do, the seat has awesome shock absorbers, so I hardly feel bumps, the handle bars are adjustable, it’s got two places for water bottle cages (because it’s a men’s/unisex bike – I guess woman don’t need as much hydration), 10 speeds more than fulfills my needs, and I love the sparkly dark blue.

Cons: as-is, it doesn’t have reflectors on the front or back (but those are easy enough to add), and no spring-loaded basket holder (which I really love) or bell – and it’s already a bit more expensive than the Breezer, so adding these things brings the price up even more.

I don’t know.  Or maybe I do.  What do you think?

Things I’ve Bought That I Love, Vol. 2

I like my money right where I can see it: hanging in my closet.
– Carrie Bradshaw, on Sex and the City

(I know it’s late, but you didn’t think I’d let you down so early in this NaBloPoMo, did you?  I wouldn’t do that to you!  I’m probably going to let you down later in this NaBloPoMo, though.)

1. Aveda Rosemary Mint shampoo – this was the shampoo in our room at the Palms when we went to Las Vegas in January, and I fell in love with it.  It’s not overpowering at all, but it’s so refreshing and energizing.  David hunted it down when we got back and bought me a GIANT bottle of it.  (FYI: I didn’t like the matching conditioner – it didn’t seem to soak in well.)

2. Old Navy Slub-Knit Active Skirt – it’s too bad they only have XXL left online because I bought an XL one (which is a little too big, but they only had S besides that one) in the store that I live in on the weekends now and I would buy one in every color if I could.  So soft, so comfortable.  That’s summer.

3. Flutter Sleeve Scoopneck knit dress from Ann Taylor Loft – I bought this in purple a few months ago in anticipation of summer and it is perfect!  Breezy and flirty without being overtly sexy, and totally comfortable.

4. Waterpik Aqua Fall Combo showerhead – we just bought this yesterday from Bed Bath and Beyond to replace the shower head that’s in our bathroom.  This one is the bomb – I love the “drenching rain” setting on the big shower head.  Also, you can use both of them at the same time, and the handheld one sits up quite high, which is great for David who is too tall for most showers and has to duck uncomfortably to rinse his head.

5. Bed Lifts – ever since we moved into our new apartment, we’ve had one quibble with the master bedroom: the TV table is just a bit shorter than the foot of the bed, which means that when we lie in bed and watch TV, the bottom of the TV is sometimes cut off.  And if Pico decides to camp out at the foot of the bed, forget it – we can’t see half the screen.  And, we have to hold the remote at odd, uncomfortable angles to change the channel or turn the TV on and off because the cable box sits in a recess even lower down.  We’ve been debating various solutions and finally went with this one yesterday, and it’s worked out perfectly.  These lifts (meant to give you more storage space under a bed) raised the TV table 7 inches, which means the cable box is now easily accessible from a normally held remote and ALL of the TV is viewable from a comfortable reclined position.  WIN! (And these are wicked strong, too – we have a 32-inch CRT TV on top of a  TV table that Target tells me weighs 100+ pounds)

What about you?  What are you loving these days?

Things I’ve Bought That I Love (Original Recipe)

Catching Up

It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
– Mark Twain

Boy, it’s been busy around here.  Let me try to catch you up:

Last Saturday, David and I went out to Loudon Valley Vineyards to “cash in” on David’s Christmas present from Nate and Molly.  Saturdays during the winter (well, November through March), you can go there and have a glass of wine and a bowl of soup for $12.  This past Saturday was the last one of the season, so despite the rainy weather, we decided to go for it.  And boy were we glad we did!  The soup was Beef Burgundy, which I’ve never had before, but it was SO good!  Look:

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I don’t know if it’s traditional to serve Beef Burgudy over egg noodles, but I can tell you I never want to eat it any other way.  And if anyone has a tried and true recipe for this, I would be grateful if you’d share it.

That night, we picked up my mom from the Metro – she was in town last week for conferences – and then met my uncle in Old Town for dinner.  We had planned to go to a French restaurant, but I didn’t think ahead to make a reservation, so we went to the tapas restaurant where David and I had our first date and then my birthday dinner.  Everything was, as always, delicious, and my mom and uncle raved about the food, so I considered it a success.  We took my mom back to her hotel in Georgetown by way of the Tidal Basin so she could see the early cherry blossoms.  I took some pictures, but they aren’t that great, since it was foggy and dark; hopefully I’ll get down there during lunch one day this week and get some better ones.

Sunday was more unpacking.  You would not believe the amount of stuff we have, and we’ve already given tons of it away.  We still have two boxes plus a small vacuum cleaner to take to Goodwill sometime this week.  It’s unbelievable, truly.

Oh, we also went for the first bike ride of the season Sunday.  It was a perfect day for it, and we rode for about an hour or so, on trails neither of us had ever been on and discovered some new places.  It was wonderful.

Yesterday, I got up early and went for a long walk in the park nearby.  I love getting my exercise in early – then I don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day.  It was gorgeous, if a little windy and nippy in the morning.

Later, we went to the nursery to pick out tomato plants.  I’m determined to have a crop this year, unlike last year.  David has done quite a bit of research (one reason we’re so compatible is he thinks, I do) and we talked to the guy at the nursery and we picked out two varieties that we hope will do well on our balcony.  Here they are after we transplanted them today:

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They’re not that tall now, but we’ll transplant them again into bigger pots when they grow out of these.  We’re also going to plant cucumbers in early May.  I’m hopeful.  Cross your fingers for us.

I asked the nursery guy about seeds to grow in a window box out on the patio and he said it’s really too late for seeds, that we should go with plants that have already sprouted – I suppose that’s why my Alyssum didn’t flower last year.  At least, I hope it is.  In my zeal, I bought a whole flat of purple Alyssum that had already sprouted and flowered a bit, never once thinking that it would be too much, but it totally is.  So I have 3/4 of a flat of Alyssum if you need it.  Just let me know!

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We headed to Home Depot for potting soil and more plants, but on the way there, we were witness to a pretty serious car accident, so we got waylaid for about 45 minutes.  We were in the right lane and a car was stopped to turn left from the left lane.  David slowed down just in time to see an SUV speed by us on the left and slam into the back of the car waiting to turn left.  David said he’d slowed down because he saw the car waiting to turn and saw the SUV and wanted to give the lady in the SUV space to get over and go around the car.  I don’t know what she was doing – she had kids in the car, maybe they distracted her – but by the time she saw him and slammed on her breaks, she had no chance to stop.

The car waiting to turn had its trunk completely totaled, and its rear windshield ended up in pieces on the hood of the SUV.  There were four teenagers in that car, and they all appeared to be ok.  I don’t know how neither of the two in the back seat were injured, given how far in the trunk got smashed, but what a relief.  I called the police while David directed traffic around the accident.  The police, fire, and ambulance came, we gave a statement, the mother got taken to the hospital on a gurney, probably as a precaution, and the kids’ father came and took them in his car.  So, all in all, everyone was very lucky.

After that, we finally made it to Home Depot and spent an hour choosing flowers and getting potting soil, window boxes, plant food, and cucumber seed.  $100 later, we headed home.  David put the window boxes together, and then we had a good dinner of pulled pork from the crock pot, baked beans, and corn.  Yum.  We also watched Milk, which was excellent, and I highly recommend it.  The bonus features were also very interesting (and subtitled!  Which, thankfully, is becoming more common, but unfortunately, is not yet required).

This morning, I potted all my flowers and put them in their window boxes.  Here are my petunias:

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And here are my geraniums:

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I love them.  I hope I don’t kill them.

I finally got the guest room in usable order today, though all the books are still in boxes, awaiting the arrival another bookshelf, which is coming from my parents, so god knows when I’ll get it.  Everything is coming together, and except for three boxes of David’s stuff in the den, and the books, everything is unpacked.  Thank goodness for that.

We went for another bike ride this afternoon, again on a different trail and again seeing all kinds of new things.  It’s so much fun!  The weather is beautiful again today, so that’s lucky.  Now we’re back, showered, and relaxing.  I’m waiting for 8pm, when my Braves take on the Phillies in the first game of the new baseball season!  In honor of the day, I’ve changed my Facebook profile picture to this one:

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Yay for baseball!

Gifter’s Remorse

The only gift is a portion of thyself.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Buying Christmas presents stresses me out.  Not for everyone – the kids are easy and fun to buy for, my sister-in-law is so laid back and genuinely appreciative of even the smallest thing, my grandparents send lists of very specific things they would like and will use, and my mom is also generally pretty easy to please.  I guess what I’m getting at then, is that it comes down to the men – my brother, David, and my dad.

Nate sometimes waits until the last minute to send a list of things he’d like, and I generally prefer to have my shopping done by mid-December, so that often means I’ve guessed on gifts for him, and I know he’s ended up with things I thought he’d like but that he’s never used. I hate that, especially because he and Molly are great at picking gifts for me – I always love what they choose.  This year, I procrastinated on shopping so long – for various reasons – that I was able to get him gifts from his list, so I feel ok, but still worry that they’re a little impersonal.  At least I know he’ll use them.

David is not really that hard to buy for, I don’t guess – he’s a gadgety, video game kind of guy – but those kinds of things don’t really seem to convey what I think a Christmas present for him should – Guitar Hero doesn’t really say “I love you more than ice cream.”

And my dad, god.  The anxiety of buying for my dad far outweighs the anxiety of buying for everyone else combined, and it’s been that way for quite some time.  I can’t remember when it started; maybe when I was old enough to notice when certain gifts got the obligatory once over and thank you, and then were put aside until they eventually ended up in the box for Goodwill (not just gifts from me, either).  I hated feeling like I’d failed; I’d work so hard to find something he’d love (he’s a late list-maker too, if you can get him to make one at all) only to be disappointed in his reaction on Christmas morning.  Last year I did great, at least on one gift, and the look on his face over such a small thing (a CD, actually) made all the fretting and anxiety worth it.

I’m the first to admit that this anxiety, particularly where my dad is concerned, stems from something deeper than just wanting to find the “perfect” gift.  It comes from my need and desire to take good care of the people I love, it comes from my need for approval from others in nearly everything I do, it comes from wanting to feel like I have enough – so much, in fact, that I can share it with my family. This year that’s a very hard one for me; there’s seems to be not enough, and even though I know no one’s keeping score, I can’t help but feel a little like I’m letting people down.

And the thing is, I’m not at all critical about the gifts other people give me, I’m just grateful to be remembered.  So why, when I know how I feel about receiving gifts, can I not ascribe the same feelings to people receiving gifts from me?  I mean, practically, I know the people in my family are not counting presents, or calculating how much I likely spent on them, or mentally figuring out who they’re going to regift my item to, or any of that.  So why is it so hard for me to just let all of that go and just relax?

Maybe that’s my problem in all of this – that my expectation of finding the perfect gift for everyone is unrealistic, or that I’m focusing on the wrong thing, that the gift doesn’t have to do all of the things I think it should – maybe I need to work on understanding that the gift is just a token, not a representation of the way I feel about the person I’m giving it to.  So I’m going to work on that.

Also, I’m going to Michigan for Christmas this year – any suggestions on a gift for David’s dad and step-mom (i’m good on his mom)?  I need something that says, “I hope you like me, since we’re going to be family one day, even though you don’t know it yet!”