Monday, January 26, 2009

Waiting at the DMV...

So Saturday morning Adam was at work and I did the weekly shopping by myself. I cannot express enough how much nicer it is to go places before about 9 am. There’s almost no one else out on Saturday morning. It’s wonderful, considering how much I dislike shopping in the first place.

Anyway, I got home and unloaded. Adam came home a short time later and we did the whole toilet thing. We picked Adam’s dad up on the way to Menards. We picked up lunch for them on the way back home. I vacated the house while they worked and picked up lunch for myself. Mmm, KFC. I brought it home and became and instant hit with Carly. She would not leave my food alone. I’d blink and she’d somehow end up on the table next to the chicken. That cat is crafty.

After the toilet was successfully replaced, the guys loaded the old stuff into the car and we got rid of it. (Semi-legally. *cough*) We dropped his dad back off and went to Office Max. I needed more nametags and holders for IMA. Those things are not cheap. Thank goodness I get reimbursed. We made a quick stop at Walgreens for detergent that was on sale and then we went back home. I baked some brownies. I made deconstructed lasagna for dinner. I updated the cooking blog as well.

Sunday morning I was up earlier than I wanted to be. My back was sore and Carly was being annoying. So I got up and got the paper. Adam made a banana-kiwi smoothie from the GI cookbook for breakfast. I tasted it but it was way too banana-y for me. Adam went downstairs to work on his models while I cleaned up in the pet room. We went to a noon movie – Paul Blart – and that’s about it. I did laundry. Wrote some checks. Made dinner. Watched The Visitor (good movie.) Went to bed.

Hopefully this morning didn’t set the tone for the week. We got up, put Carly in the cat room (like we usually do – she’s such a baby) and when Adam went to go get her back out he almost stepped in a pile of cat puke. Fabulous. Luckily I hadn’t gotten in the shower yet so I cleaned it up first. I went to the DMV at lunch to renew my driver’s license. I was in and out in about two minutes. Another stellar photo, of course:


Adam’s is up for renewal this year too.

This week puts an end to the boringness a little. I’ve got bells tonight and we’ve got tickets to Cinderella on Thursday. Friday is inventory day and then month-end starts again. We really didn’t pick our PAC events very well this season. This is the second one that fell on the day before inventory day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It started with Billy Mays...

You know that Oxi-Clean guy? The one who shouts about everything?

Yeah, that guy.

So he's hocked everything from Orange Glo to Hercules Hooks, including a toilet-cleaning system called Kaboom Scrub Free, a thing you hook to your toilet tank that continuously cleans your toilet for you. We bought one for each bathroom a couple months ago. I would definitely recommend getting one. They totally work. But that's not what this blog post is about.

The time had come to change the tablets. Adam had dropped in the refill in his own toilet a few days ago and came to do mine. I was in bed, watching tv. I heard a ruckus in the bathroom, but didn't worry until he yelled to get towels. While disengaging the Kaboom, he managed to break the flapper thing-a-ma-bob and sprayed water all over the place. Result - wet bathroom, non-functional toilet.

After he left work this morning he stopped at Menards and picked up a toilet repair kit. After clearing out the bathroom he started to disassemble the tank. He pulled out piece after piece of toilet part covered in black goo. After getting everything out, he determine my handle wouldn't work with the new flusher system. Apparently they've changed the way they make toilets since 1981. Hmmm. Imagine that. So it was determined that it would just be easier to get a whole new toilet than try and rig something to work with what I had.

So, yeah.

This is all your fault, Billy. If you weren't such a good salesman, we never would have had to go out and buy a new toilet today.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oscar nominations!

Excluding the usual categories (documentaries, shorts, and foreigns) I added four more titles to the list: Australia (blech!), Iron Man, Hellboy II, and Wanted. Don’t really want to see any of those, but they were all in different categories so I can’t just decide to drop another one to eliminate these additions. We’ll see how my stick-with-it-ness lasts. These additions bring the total list up to 33 titles:


I’ve watched 5 so far (in red) and The Visitor is sitting on the end table at home to be watched this weekend.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cold and Cats

The ridiculously cold weather is affecting many parts of life these days. Hearing it’s -14 (not including the windchill) outside the minute you wake up kind of kills your desire to get out of bed and go to work.

It’s also very dry so my skin is dying. There’s not enough lotion in the world to keep it hydrated. And the zillion papercuts I get everyday are magnified. My nose and sinuses have pretty much given up on me. I don’t have a cold, my nose is just so dry it bleeds at the drop of a hat. I’m doing what I can, but I can only drink so much water and shoot so much nasal spray up there in one day.

Also affected by the cold is my car. The check engine light came on (again) Thursday morning. So we did the great car switch and Adam’s dad took it in with him to work Friday morning. They ran the diagnostic and some gasket something or other is loose or something. I don’t know. But my car isn’t the only one who’s come in with this problem so they didn’t have the right part to fix it. And it’s backordered. So, my car will be fixed in two or three weeks. They tell me driving it won’t hurt it. I’m holding them to that. Luckily I don’t drive much anyway.

Anyway. All anyone can talk about these days is the weather. It’s supposed to warm up at some point. In April. *sigh* We’ve been kicking the heat up a couple of degrees the past few days. 65 just wasn’t cutting it. We still let it re-set to 63 overnight though. I’m plenty warm with blankets, Adam, and at least two cats sharing their warmth with me. And since they say most of your heat escapes from your head (although I remember reading something recently that debunked that), Carly takes care of that by wrapping herself around the top of mine. JC usually curls up by my knees. Even so, I’m not looking forward to our next gas bill.

Speaking of bills (and we were, kind of), I had my review at work a couple days ago. Four years now. One more year and I get an additional week of vacation. Boo-yah. Everything is great and wonderful. Go me. And this year I got 3.3% because they did some kind of funny math to get around the 3% freeze. Or something like that. It’s nice that I got a raise at all though, I know. Adam’s salary has been on a freeze for over a year. It’s rough. And now he’s gone back to hourly, which he was not too happy about. We do what we have to I guess. On the plus side, he now gets overtime again so when he worked on Saturday morning he got time and a half.

The weekend was pretty un-exciting. I did some shopping while Adam was at work yesterday morning. When he got home we headed to Simon's for cheese, Sam's club, and to American to complain (again) about our missing lamp. It's supposed to be delivered to the store tomorrow morning so we'll see. I made this leek & gnocchi bake that was so good.

I used prosciutto for the first (and probably last) time. It was so salty. And expensive. I'll probably go back to swapping bacon for it, but it was good to experiment a little.

This morning we did our weekend trip to Menards. We watched Mr. Woodcock. Well, I missed parts of it because I was doing laundry. But that's ok. I don't really dig Billy Bob anyway. He's... creepy. Adam went to get his haircut and then picked up lunch from this new place in town - Bumpa's Bagels - on his way home. The sandwiches were good. Mine was a bit messy, but they really piled the chicken salad on! The rest of the day was football. I spent the afternoon/evening going through all my old Rachael Ray magazines to clear off some shelf space and refresh my recipe library.

I also spent a good portion of the evening taking pictures of the cats. They seemed to be doing all kinds of weird and interesting things:

JC & Carly, tolerating each other's existence:

Connor, so serious:

Seriously, this cat HATES me...

Aah, the fun of a see-through coffee table:

In my head this shot reminds me a lot of that scene in As Good As it Gets where Greg Kinnear's character is sketching Helen Hunt's character in the hotel bathroom. When she walks, she's like a cat version of Raquel Welch. Does that make me weird?

This one will mess with your eyes. I caught a great photo op when the sun was shining in my eyes and I had to close the curtains. Looks like a shadow of Ted, right?

But you can tell in this one that it's actually Connor behind the curtain. So cool...

This one just amused me for some reason.


Amazingly enough, Ted can still squeeze himself into the teepee.

Connor nabs the best seat in the house.

The legless position that still baffles me.

And, finally, Adam's cat moustache that makes me crack up every time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Captivating Carly

Proof that they CAN co-exist if they want to:

(Carly's up in the top corner by the light...)

or not...

What's got JC so interested?

That would be Carly, taking a bath.

You must pet me, I have your hand captive!

and finally, her favorite after dinner hangout. She must think she's a cookbook...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weekend Shenanigans

Friday night we decided to go to dinner at Applebee’s and use the gift card that Adam got for Christmas. We didn’t repeat the mistake of sitting in the bar this time. Neenah doesn’t have a smoking ban and it can get quite smoky in there. Nothing extraordinary about the meal. Adam had a salad and I had some garlic chicken thing. Their menu seems to get smaller every time we go there. Maybe it’s all in my head… We went home and watched Burn After Reading. I have to admit that I just didn’t get it. Was there a plot? Any point at all to the film? There were a couple “what the &$^#” moments (and the wedge? A purple one even? Fantastic. (Not that I know what that’s about (hi mom!) or anything…ahem)) but other than that it was just mainly a head-scratcher. And I was looking forward to seeing it too. I guess you never know until you watch it.

Saturday was a busy day. We cleaned out litter boxes and I vacuumed the cat room. We did our weekly Walmart/grocery shopping in the morning. We even managed to stay within our weekly budget, which is impressive. I then headed back out to run some errands of my own. I stopped at Petco to pick up some more Nature’s Miracle (which we then saw was WAY cheaper at Fleet Farm so Adam returned it today.) I then got some lunch at Erbert & Gerbert’s using some of the gift certificates I got from Adam for Christmas. Yum. Then it was off to DSW to look for shoes. I didn’t find any dark colored sneakers (that were a price I wanted to pay) but I did find some black dress shoes that I’m more comfortable wearing on a daily basis. What I can I say, I’m in a shoe rut. Next stop was Barnes & Noble (another gift card redemption) for a Glycemic Index cookbook. The cashier made some comment about how she could never follow that kind of diet because she likes meat too much. Mis-information much? My biggest dislike of a low-GI diet is that potatoes (except for baked) are off limits. This sucks and I will probably cheat on that front. Adam paged through the book and marked quite a few recipes, so we’ll see where this goes.

I stopped at Shopko to browse their Payless Shoe section for sneakers as well as their purse section. Like my shoes, my purse is another item that I have a hard time giving up. But when the tape that had been holding one side of the strap on came off a couple weeks ago I decided I should probably start looking for a new one. I checked out the selection at Kohl’s last weekend but couldn’t justify spending $30 (on sale!) for a purse. I’m so cheap. I didn’t find anything I liked at Shopko (shoes or purse) so I went to Walmart on the way home. I found a pair of black and purple sneakers (that Adam laughed at) and a purse for $13. I don’t like the belt buckle design on the front of it, but it will do until my next great search.

I got home, unloaded, and then spent three hours in the office purging the file cabinet. I think the last time I did that was back at the beginning of 2007, so I had quite a few things to shred. I killed the shredder many times. It overheats and I have to give it some time to recover. I finally finished shredding everything yesterday evening. The cats all had a fabulous time playing with file folders and the piles of papers I had lying around. I don’t see the appeal of a stack of paper, but then again I’m not a cat. I made grilled turkey sandwiches for dinner and still couldn’t figure out how to get them crispy and not soggy. Grrr.

Sunday morning Adam vacuumed, I mopped the kitchen, cleaned my bathroom. The afternoon was spent mostly watching football (or in my case, laying on the loveseat trying not to fall asleep.) Adam made rotisserie chicken on the grill for dinner. It turned out great and he just cut the bird in half (and took the wing and leg off my half) and we went to it. Some clean-up in the kitchen and I was ready for bed.

This week is boring with a capital “b”. Hand bell practice was cancelled for tonight so I don’t even have that going on. I’ve got three new recipes on the menu and I hope to update the neglected cooking blog and Flickr photostream. Adam wants to reorganize the kitchen cabinets so that might make it onto my “to-do” list for next weekend.

At work, I’m finally getting around to moving 2007 out of my file cabinets (yes, I do mean 2007. I keep prior year files close by in case I need them.) I even discovered some 2006 stuff still in the back. Argh. I’ve got one last report to complete for 2008 and then I’m all 2009. Hopefully. I’m sure 2008 will come back to haunt me soon enough. I was volunteered to do all the tax books again this year (boo) and I have a feeling a consolidated MHR file will be headed my way at some point as well. Damn this Excel guru title… Is it my fault I can do things four times faster than everyone else? :) It’s all in the pivot tables.

Anyway, I added all the movies currently on the awards list (well, ones I haven’t seen yet) to our Blockbuster queue so we’ll see how quickly I can chip away at that. There are quite a few movies in the theater right now I wouldn’t mind seeing as well, but I doubt that’s something I could bring myself to do on a weeknight. Way too expensive.

That's about it for now. I'm looking forward to a call from the auditor tomorrow. He was supposed to call me today but apparently didn't get around to it. Darn... Ha.

A Rude Awakening

I’m kind of tired today.

Why, you ask? At 4 this morning we were wrested from slumber by a cat’s retching. Carly had a regular old kitty barf party. And since she sleeps on my pillow we all know where it ended up. My idea of a good time is definitely not cleaning up cat puke at 4 in the morning. Unfortunately for me, Adam has a sympathic reflex that makes him unable to deal with all of the many messes that the express excavation of bodily waste can create. Reason number 2,014 why we shouldn’t have kids.

Anywho, after shuttling Carly off to the cat room (and kicking Ted and Conner, who were all cute and cuddly on the cat bed, out) and shooing both JC and Adam away from the bed I cleaned up the mess and stripped the sheets off the bed as quickly as possible. Adam did an impromptu linen closet reorganization while searching for the back-up set of sheets. He came to the conclusion that we need a back-up for the back-up. My pillow I chalked up as a complete loss and the only other lasting spot was a relatively small circle on the mattress pad, which we turned so it’s by our feet now. We remade the bed and were settled by around 5. The alarm went off at 6.

It doesn’t appear that Carly was in any way affected by this ordeal. She bee-lined for the food bowl when I put in her the cat room. In any case, her food was much more well-digested than Ted’s “I turbo-ate my food and it came right back up” barf. And it was nothing compared to Ted’s “I didn’t even attempt to get my big pile of runny poo in the litter box” that I had to deal with yesterday afternoon. Ah, the joys of pet ownership.

And that is much more than you wanted to know, I’m sure.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cute Overload

I got myself a new page-a-day calendar for 2009. No more Dilbert. It was time for "Cute Overload." The first week of the year hasn't disappointed. Try looking at these without going "awwwww." (click on the pictures to enlarge them)

See. You couldn't do it, could you? Sometimes the caption makes it even better. I admit I'm partial to the rodent and feline days. It's going to be an interesting year.

Furnaces and year-end and cooking (oh my)

We met with the (very talkative) furnace sales rep on Monday evening. I know nothing about furnaces or air conditioners and I don’t really care to learn. So Adam took care of the details and I signed on the line. We went with York rather than Trane since Trane doesn’t yet make a modulating furnace. In total, the cost fell about where I thought it would. (Still painful.) Citi offers 6 months no interest and we’ll see where everything else stands at that point to see what we do from there. Being slightly more positive about this whole thing, the new furnace is rated 95% efficient and will have 58,000 BTU max compared to the 100,000 BTU, 40% efficient beast currently in the basement. So our gas bill should go down. Woo. Installation is set for February 2nd.

Nothing much else going on these days. Month-, Quarter-, and Year-end are going fine so far. As much as I complain about working that first Saturday of the year, it fell in such a way this year that I was able to get a day ahead. And not come in at 6:30 on day two. So that was nice. It’s technically only day five and I’m already done with all of inventory and have made good headway on my quarterly and sales reports. On the flip side, I did absolutely no preparation to roll the year on all my files so I’m accumulating quite a stack of 2009 paperwork with nowhere to go yet. Bad planning, but (almost) unavoidable because of how strange the end of the year was. Stupid NAFTA.

The calendar looks depressingly blank for most of this month. I’ve got IMA on the 20th and we’ll be going to see Cinderella (in ballet form) on the 29th. Really, that’s about it. I recently got the new issue of the Rachael Ray magazine and I picked up a Cooking for 2 at Walmart. Between the two of us we were able to come up with a fair-sized list of new recipes to try out. My cooking blog has been languishing, totally ignored for awhile since I wasn’t making anything new. Trying to reverse that trend. But still use up what’s in the house at the same time. We have so much stuff in the freezers we could probably not go shopping (except for items like milk) for a couple months.

On Wearing Heels...

I recently got a new pair of shoes. OK, so really I bought the shoes months ago and just started wearing them this week. I have a problem letting go of comfy, yet on the edge of shabby, shoes. This time I took them off, put them in the trash, and then cleaned out the fridge - just in case I had the urge to take them out and wear them again. Ha ha! I so control me.

Anyway, the new pair of shoes is different from what I generally wear. First off, the heel is a good two inches taller than my last pair. This alone causes all kinds of new issues. There’s something to be said for people who can walk normally (or run, or crime-fight) while wearing heels. Putting on shoes with a heel over an inch and a half shifts your center of gravity. Your posture changes, you walk differently. I cannot walk normally in heels. I am suddenly very conscious of my butt. I can’t explain it.

Secondly, these shoes are very noisy. Not because I’m stomping around in them (although I admit I could probably be lighter on my feet) but because the heels clop. I am also very conscious of the noise I make while walking around the office. I can no longer sneak up on anyone. While good for avoiding bathroom door crashes by letting those coming out know that I’m coming in, this noisiness hinders my ability to drop things off in peoples’ inboxes and run away before they can ask about them. (Not that I ever do that.) (But if I wanted to, now I couldn’t.)

I’m not sure I like these new shoes yet. I haven’t even attempted to wear them outside since it’s been snowy and icy all week. I have been planning to go shoe shopping to find a dark sneaker so I might keep an eye out for a black dress shoe with a less noticeable heel. We’ll see.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

So, There's Good News and There's Bad News...

The Good News: It seems like when the house decides to fall apart, it does so on the weekend or a day that Adam (and usually his dad) have time to fix it.

The Bad News: Remember the knocking on wood? Totally didn't work.

We awoke on Saturday morning to the smell of burning plastic. As I got ready to go to work (yay! Year-end is SUPER FUN!) Adam walked around trying to figure out where the smell was coming from. It was definitely more noticeable in smaller rooms (bathrooms) and it seemed to be coming from the heating vents. He went downstairs and looked at the furnace, but didn't really see anything odd. He vacuumed it out with the shopvac. Then he had me turn the thermostat way up and it took a while for the furnace to kick on. And when it did, it was pretty much doing nothing. So I left for work (did I mention "yay!") and Adam called his dad. He also called some repair people for options.

Turns out the blower motor had died. That explained the burning smell and lack of hot air. Luckily we were able to get someone in right away to replace the part (and with a not totally obscene weekend labor rate.) The other side of that is while we were planning to replace the furnace and A/C unit this spring anyway, if we do it within 30 days, they'll credit us back a portion of the cost of the replacement part. So we should be getting a call from the estimator people tomorrow and see how things go.

Grrr. Nothing ever goes as planned. But I figure eventually we'll have replaced every single thing in the house. And then we'll get to start all over again. Woo!

I Guess We'll Keep Her.

I'm determined not to fall into the gaping hole of year-end again this year. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, we got a second poo sample from Ms. Carly on New Year's Day and Adam dropped it at the vet on his way to work. They did their fecal floatation tests and she's all clear and free of unwanted parasite friends. We're relieved. Not sure what we would have done if the results had gone the other way.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Completely Unoriginal Year-End Recap

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before? I didn't really do many exciting, daring things this year. I did get summoned for jury duty though. The case was dismissed before we even left the jury holding area, but at least I can say I fulfilled my civic duty.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't know that I ever officially make resolutions. They'd always be the same and I've always failed miserably.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? I didn't think so until I found out on Christmas that my cousin, Lori, had a baby in September. Wonderful family communication, don't you think?

4. Did anyone close to you die? Not that I can recall.

5. What countries did you visit? Travel in 2008? Very limited. Our travel this year involved a trip in May to Chicago, a day out at the Mall of America, and a day in Door County.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? More money (or less debt, however you want to look at it.)

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Nothing really happened this year, so I have no idea.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I don't know. Not freaking out and quitting my job some days? I'm telling you. It was a boring year.

9. What was your biggest failure? I'm disappointed that we didn't end up being able to pay off the last credit card balance by year's end. That was my original goal and even though I threw it out the window mid-year, it's still a bummer.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing serious. Just your normal "I live in Wisconsin and am perpetually sneezing" kind of thing.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Um. I don't remember making any big ticket purchases. I got a lot of kitchen things for Christmas, but I didn't buy them so I don't think that counts.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? I don't have an original answer for this, so let's copy everyone else and say "the American people, for getting out and voting."

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? So many stupid politicians this year, eh? I've never been impressed with anyone who chooses that line of business, but this year was especially disgusting.

14. Where did most of your money go? Mortgage, bills. Absolutely nothing fun, I'm sure.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? I don't think I get that excited about anything (three "really"s is a lot...) and this year was, as I've said, BORING, so no excitement for me.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? That stupid Flo Rider "Low" song. It freakin' followed me around for MONTHS. Just ask Adam. Every time we got in the car that's the song that was on the radio.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? About the same , really. b) thinner or fatter? fatter. Boo. c) richer or poorer? About the same here as well. Also boo.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Anything. We did pretty much nothing all year. We're so boring.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I'd say "spending money" but most of the big hits were unavoidable. When your water heater dies, you kind of have to replace it.

20. How did you spend Christmas? We went to Falls to have lunch with my dad, Cheryl, Catherine, and others from Cheryl's family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008? Not with anyone new, unless you count a cat.

22. What was your favorite TV program? I've become hooked on NCIS. How is it that I never knew this existed before? It's like Law & Order, CSI, and JAG combined. Awesome.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No, I hate all the same people. Ha.

24. What was the best book you read? Honestly, I don't remember reading anything new this year. How sad is that?

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Also don't know that I discovered any new artists this year. Still like the same stuff. David Archuleta is pretty good though.

26. What did you want and get? My wish list is pretty much always the same: kitchen stuff and books. With Linen's N Things going under, I was able to get a lot of kitchen stuff for Christmas.

27. What did you want and not get? Nothing.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? I watched a lot of movies early on with my Oscar challenge but then things really fell off the second part of the year. I don't remember one particular movie that stood out. Dark Knight was pretty good.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? This year I turned 26. Adam was in California the days before my birthday and he flew back the morning of. We went out to dinner.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? No lingering credit card debt (and, related to that, getting paid what I think I should be given the amount of additional work I've taken on. But I get the feeling that's a pipe dream.)

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? I don't have one. I wear what fits. That's all.

32. What kept you sane? All this assuming I'm sane thing again.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I'm not sure who my celebrity crush is right now. I'm kind of disconnected from that, despite how much E! I watch.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? I hate politics, but the whole Sarah Palin thing freaked me out.

35. Who did you miss? No one in particular. Most people are a phone call (or email) away.

36. Who was the best new person you met? I don't know that I met anyone new. Apparently no one who made an impression anyway.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. The year was too boring to produce a life lesson. Maybe that's one - don't be so boring you learn nothing for a whole year.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Sit around and watch the tube but nothing's on, change the channels for an hour or two - Green Day, "Longview"