Saturday, November 03, 2012

La Tour, times three

1998, Paris

2003, Paris

2012, Las Vegas :-)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gimme Five

Happy Anniversary!

(Even after five years, this picture still makes me crack up...)

Friday, June 01, 2012

Year Five

So, house, we've made it through year five.
In general, this year was not as exciting as some others. But we did get a pretty big facelift last summer, didn't we? Going from blue

to green

was a change.
Expenses related to that were almost all insurance claim covered, but we did have to pay our deductible and we decided to invest in gutter heater coils (to prevent icicles) and some new lighting outside as well. We had to replace the side access garage door because when they removed the siding around it it pretty much fell apart from so much bug and rot damage. Other outdoor improvements included some lawn mower and snow blower maintenance items, new grates for the grill (stainless!), and supplies for the now infamous adirondack chairs.
Indoors, we replaced the cabinet and towel rack in the hall bathroom, invested in a second set of sheets after one too many 3am "aah, the cat's barfing in bed" moments, and bought a special pet filter for the furnace. We had something of a ceiling fan saga in the living room, going through something like six fans in about a week. We had to replace our CO/fire alarms recently because the ones we had malfunctioned. We replaced the kitchen faucet AGAIN because of leakage. We just have no luck with that faucet... Big ticket items were a new Dyson vacuum cleaner we bought when yet another Bissell power cord pulled right out of the back of the machine and a new Keurig when the one we had stopped pulling water - a pump issue apparently.
All in all, not a bad year. I'm hoping this year will be pretty quiet - but the deck project is on the horizon!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Door County Trolley: Progressive Dinner Outing

Speaking of fun activities...

Last weekend we went up to Door County for a few days. We had booked the Progressive Dining Trolley Tour a few months ago and, of course, had no idea it would be so ridiculously gorgeous. It was just stellar weather. A lot of places weren't opened back up for the season yet, but it was kind of nice, just driving around, soaking in the atmosphere.

As for the trolley tour, If you're in the area and have the time I highly recommend you check it out. It was awesome!

The trolley picked us and the other 18 people in the group up at Lautenbach's Orchards and Winery (coincidentally, our favorite winery in the area!) at 5pm. We met everyone, chatted with the driver, and then headed off to appetizers. They advertise them as being at a "surprise location" and they're not kidding. I don't want to ruin it, but it'd be hard to give a review without mentioning where we went.

Appetizers were at the Hands On Art Studio in Fish Creek. We were definitely surprised, but absolutely pleasantly so. This was somewhere we'd been before and had even considered stopping in on this trip too. I invite you to revist Hazel, the adorable pot-bellied pig, and all the other animals from our first trip, in this post. After a mini tour (drawback of nice weather after snow? MUD!) we headed upstairs for some food. Studio-owner Cy is apparently a chef in his spare time and had put together some fabulous flat bread pizzas. I stuck with the blue cheese, pear, and canadian bacon one. There was also an asparagus and bacon, a vegetarian with tomatoes and eggplant, and one other one that I can't even remember. There were also some veggies with the greatest dip ever, shrimp cocktail, and all kinds of beverages. Just a wonderful spread. After eating too much we all set about decorating a wine glass. Yes, you don't just get food, you get a craft project as well!

I made a glass with humor:

(it's a cat and the back says "a Purr-fect glass" - it doesn't photograph well...)

And Adam made a pimp cup:

After the glasses were blown-dry and packed for safe keeping we headed back to the trolley and on to dinner. Now, when we booked the tour the website said that dinner was at Alexander's. At some point they must have changed that and we actually had dinner at The English Inn (which is literally right down the street from Alexander's.) It was wonderful. They had a long table set up for us toward the back of the restaurant so we got to wind our way through all these normal diners and get gawked at. That was cool. We had a choice of seven entrees (and a special) and all kinds of soup/salad/side options. Dinner also came with one glass of beer or wine. I went with the special which was a chicken Wellington and I had the Mandarin salad (greens with mandarin oranges and a really good honey mustard dressing.) Adam chose the Prime Rib and had the clam chowder which he declared excellent. We were seated at one end of the table and our end got a little rowdy at times. We were by two other couples who were great conversationalists. We had more than one uncontrollable laughter sessions... it was a lot of fun.

Given how much we'd consumed at appetizers, a lot of us didn't eat much of the dinner. I took almost all of the chicken Wellington home and I had it for lunch on Monday. Adam made it through his meat but left his potato behind. After we were done with dinner it was off to dessert at the Eagle Harbor Inn in Ephraim. They had three different desserts: A chocolate creme brulee, a cherry crumble of sorts, and a chocolate raspberry tart. I chose the chocolate raspberry, Adam had the cherry crumble. They were delicious. The coffee was pretty good too.

After desserts it was back to the trolley and back to the winery. We collected our glasses, said goodbye to our tour companions and headed back to our hotel in Sturgeon Bay.

This is without doubt a great way to experience a great evening of food and friendship in the area. No stress, no worries about being late, not being able to get in, figuring out a tip (all gratuties are included.) The three venues were top notch, the food was wonderful, I have nothing but superlative adjectives for the whole experience. Our tour guide/trolley driver was a great guy and the trolley itself was cute, cozy, but comfortable, even for Adam and his legs (we did sit in the very front though.) Adam has suggested we make this an annual thing. I wouldn't be opposed to that. It was a uniquely awesome night.

Fun Activities Update


So much for being a more consistent blogger.

Anyway. Many things to discuss.

Firstly: The PAC announced their 2012-2013 Broadway Across America line-up. They are:

Blue Man Group
Catch Me If You Can
The Addams Family
War Horse

with two special add-on shows - Mamma Mia! and The Lion King

We renewed our seats the same day they announced the shows and got tickets for the two add-ons as well. Woo for early bird discounts!

Granted, none of these are on my "see before I die" list, but I believe I'll enjoy most of them. Keep in mind that season ticket holders get early purchasing rights on all shows so if you'll be in the area and are interested in any of these let us know! Our tickets are always for the Wednesday night show.


In the same vein, the second I caught wind that Kristin Chenoweth was going to do a concert tour I was on the web, looking for her closest stop. Minneapolis would have been easier from a logistics/parking/hotel standpoint, but from a financial standpoint, Chicago was actually a lot cheaper, especially since we booked a hotel outside of the downtown area. So, woo again:

tickets have already arrived!


This has been some crazy weather lately, but perhaps it means we'll actually be able to attend the first two games of our Timber Rattler season ticket package. Last year we missed our first two because of really awful weather (wind, thunder, HAIL). This year we've got one in mid-April as part of our package and we got comped tickets to the season opener on April 5th. We shall see what Mother Nature has in store.

Friday, March 09, 2012


We watched Hugo last night. Admittedly, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I’d say it was ok, not spectacular. I guess the subject just isn’t my thing.

It had some redeeming qualities though: It was set in Paris (automatically earns some points just for that) and the whole thing just reminded me of Amelie. Quirky “French” girl, gloomy "French" boy. Tricky camera work and fantasy sequences. Colorful supporting cast complete with Sasha Baron Cohen’s Inspector’s awkward wooing of the flower girl and the man/woman/possessive dog trifecta. Even the music. But then I felt like I was stuck in a Smashing Pumpkin’s music video for most of the second half of the film. Luckily I discovered that I was, in fact, not totally insane and their “Tonight, Tonight” video was indeed a relatively faithful recreation of the Méliès film “La Voyage dans la lune.” Whew! What an example of how cultural references shift perception…

Anyway, another one down. It’s hard to get very far on the list early on here because we’re definitely not a primary market.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Valentine's Day

This year Adam took over the Valentine's Day planning. He told me I couldn't come home until he was ready. I went to the library after work and waiting for the signal. When I arrived, I was met with this scene:

and this food:

Mmm... chicken parmesan. One of my favorite foods ever. It was excellent. Definitely a success in my mind.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Well, that's kind of weird...

Yesterday I started kicking around an idea for a summer party: I'm thinking a "build-your-own taco bar" sounds like a lot of fun. So many different possibilities, none of which that are too expensive or too labor intensive. The thought was still kind of percolating in my brain when I saw the most recent recipe posted on Tasty Kitchen. Homemade Refried Beans. Seriously? Maybe this is a sign...

Nothing's guaranteed but...

As the overachieving accountant type that I am (and the impatient, get it done right now type that Adam is) we filed our federal and state tax returns last weekend. We found ourselves in an eerily similar situation to last year. In fact, our state refund is $1 less than it was last year. Weird. We had to pay in a couple hundred dollars for federal again, but that’s ok. Our effective tax rate was pretty much the same as well – just below the 9% mark. That’s what we get for being DINKs. Oh well. The state filing process is awful (Adam actually did it this year because I just couldn’t bring myself to face the stupid website after the past couple years) but it’s free (take that, TurboTax) and ridiculously fast. Our refund is due to direct deposit on the 15th. Crazy.

American duty - check.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A Momentous Occasion...

So 30, huh?

Like many years in the past, I’ll be working a normal day today. Such is the life of an accountant. We’ll be going out to dinner tonight and my dad and Cheryl are coming up for dinner on Saturday. I don’t anticipate a lot of hoopla. I specifically rejected the singing gorilla and with my birthday so close to Valentine’s day, flowers are always prohibitively expensive. So it goes. I’m happy with simple things. It’s no surprise that I’m not an attention whore. Although sometimes I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. At some moments it seems like I should demand the attention I deserve but I tend to let it pass. Stupid introverted personality (I’m an ISTJ. Who’s shocked?)

29 was not an easy year. Many upheavals both professionally and personally. I’m hoping 30 will be a more balanced, zen year. You may have noticed that things got a little quiet here in blog land. I sort of lost my inspiration/motivation. I’m also hoping to improve on that and post more here, even if it’s just stupid cat pictures or movie reviews.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Perfectly Coordinated

I finally found the perfect shower curtain. I've been searching for just the right one for a long time. I had managed to swap everything else out to the purple/white color scheme except for the awful green shower curtain. I just could not find the right purple.

Then, yesterday at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, on a shelf of clearance items, angels sang, the stars aligned, and I caught sight of this:

Perfect! Purple, shiny, and sparkly. And only $10!

My interior designer (that would be JC there) agrees it's an excellent choice.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oscar 2012

Yikes, there are a lot of additional titles added to the list with Oscar nominations coming out this morning. I can't guarantee I'll watch them all (Harry Potter, Transformers, and Real Steel, I'm looking at you...) but we'll see. There are quite a few I'm actually looking forward to.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shortest Movie Reviews Ever

Moneyball: Boring.
The Ides of March: Depressing.
Rango: Boring-er.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hodge Podge

* We watched The Help last week. It was ok, I guess. I think I was distracted by Emma Stone's southern accent. It was an interesting film, but not one I'd probably watch again. Up to 7 on the done list. I plan to watch the Golden Globes tonight and see how they turn out.

* We ate Brussels sprouts for the first time ever this week. The verdict? Pretty good! I was kind of surprised because they look like baby cabbages, but don't taste like cabbage at all.

* I passed my seven-year service anniversary at work earlier this month. That seems like such a long time. Scarier than that? I still have emails from 2005 in my Outlook personal folders. We accountants keep everything!

* I yielded to peer pressure yesterday and got an iPhone. Between cancelling our land line and the convenience of being able to check email wherever I am, the Apple sirens were calling too loudly for me to ignore them any longer. So far I've gotten addicted to Fruit Ninja and discovered that that hyped up "Words With Friends" game is really just Scrabble. Scrabble, people! Ugh. I HATE Scrabble. Although I will mention that I still won when I played Adam yesterday. :)

* I'm currently making a mixed berry crisp in the crockpot, Adam made Flat Apple Pie earlier this afternoon, and I'll be making Brookies in just a few minutes. Yay for cold-weather dessert-making!

* But boo for snow. I was so hopeful that maybe it would miss us completely this year. 'Twas not to be.


Monday, January 02, 2012

2012 Movie List

So, let's talk about movies. I did terribly on watching the 2011 award nominees. Just awful.

Carly: You mean you're not going to finish your Oscar list from 2011?!?


Maybe I'll get back to them, but for now there's a brand new list! Golden Globe and SAG nominees are out already and Oscar noms will be out later this month. Woo!

We had a weekend full of movie watching. We saw a total of five movies (The Change Up, Midnight in Paris, Crazy, Stupid, Love, One Day, and The Beginners), three of which appear on the 2012 list. Go me!

My favorite was definitely Midnight in Paris. Perhaps I'm partial to movies that show great shots of the famous city. This was also a classic Woody Allen production where you'd need to watch it over and over to catch everything and take some art history classes in between viewings to appreciate all the homages. Just wonderful, Owen Wilson notwithstanding.

The Change Up was a stupid comedy with plenty of gross out jokes. Not much else to say about it, really.

Crazy, Stupid, Love was pretty good. Lots of intertwining plots that you didn't really see until the climax scene. And Steve Carrell managed to tone it down a bit. He's kind of like Adam Sandler - can't usually seem to escape the character hole he dug himself into to get his big break, but when he does it's amazing.

One Day was enjoyable. Once again, lots of great shots of Paris and the like. Slightly distracted by Anne's accent, although that may just be because it was made such a big deal of during the promotion of the film. Definitely not a comedy, but plenty of fun along the way.

The Beginners seemed kind of slow. Jumped around in time, used a "this is the sun, these are the stars, etc" kind of technique that I'm sure I saw before but can't quite place. It was ok, but not spectacular.

Thus far I'm six for 34. Let's hope I do better this time around.