Thursday, October 30, 2008

A New Love... Ann Taylor Loft

So, I went to Evergreen Walk last night. I hobbled around looking for a birthday present for my sis-in-law's birthday and hobbled into Ann Taylor Loft. I was in there with my mom a few weeks ago and liked the stuff there but didn't try anything on b/c I am a bad shopper often going in the dressing room 2-3 times with more armfuls of stuff only to come out with 2 things that fit or that I want to buy. So I went in with one armful, tried on some pants, shirts, sweaters etc. The stuff mostly was on sale but when I try things on and am 'iffy' about it I say in my head- if this costs more than 25, I won't buy it. Or I like this for $30 or less. So I pick a few things, surprised at how much I love this new store (first time I ever went into the store was a few weeks ago with mom) and ask the sales lady about the pants I picked (they were called 'Ann') and she gives me a quick lesson on how to shop in the store. While I'm checking out she says 'yeah, we're having this great sale all the things you bought are an extra 40% off and if you open an Ann Taylor loft card you get an extra 20% off'. So I hobble quickly back to my dressing room to reevaluate all the things I didn't get b/c they were a little too expensive (something $34.99 now falls under my 'under $30' pricing with the discount!). OH NO all my clothes are gone! (man, I was JUST in there). So I rush back to the desk and say 'I was just in there and want to get more stuff b/c of the extra 40% off, can you help me find my stuff?' So they direct me to the things I tried on and I grab a few more things and check out. Total savings were OVER $100. Yes! And I got an Ann Taylor Loft card. I feel like Laura, I want to go back this weekend for more stuff (is that bad?). Who am I?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Halloweenie!

Happy Halloweenie! Hubby and I carved our first pumpkin, which we decided we would take turns doing different facial carvings which ended up in some tricked out jack o lantern but who cares, I was just thrilled to get a pumpkin. With the busted foot I couldn't go grocery shopping (it was my turn to cook/shop) but when sweetie came home from the store, he said he had a surprise for me! I wasn't very excitable b/c I was wallowing in my pain and self pity but I have to admit, the pumpkin made me SO happy. So I start carving with the triangle eye, and then the lunatic I live with did the hexagonal other eye. Then he did a stella-doro breakfast treat shaped nose and I did the mouth. We laughed and giggled. We toasted the seeds with salt and pepper and they were delicious. I am a lucky girl.

Foot update: the foot is still sore but improving. I might try driving tomorrow. The swelling and pain is subsiding but my toes look like I dipped them in blue dye and the dark bruises on each side make it look a lot worse than it feels. Pictures are inappropriate for the blog since they are incredibly gross (but they do exist b/c it is slightly unbelievable)

What we had for dinner: Sauteed Turkey Cutlets with Orange Cranberry Pan Sauce, wild rice and carrots. It was DELICIOUS!
From Cooking Light:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 (2-ounce) turkey cutlets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Melt butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat.
While butter melts, sprinkle cutlets with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge cutlets in flour; shake off excess flour.
Increase heat to medium-high; heat 2 minutes or until butter turns golden brown. Add cutlets to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove cutlets from pan; keep warm. Add juice, mustard, and cranberries to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 5 minutes). Serve sauce over cutlets.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

UCONN Football Security Detail

I'm pretty sure I didn't break anything by HOLY goodness does it HURT. The pictures don't really do it justice but it's nasty and swollen. My honey has been great taking care of me, but I'm pretty sure I've taken my max of advil for the day so I'm going to bed.

At the UCONN game today a fight between two idiots erupted in our section. As they got closer (walking down the steps) more and more people were getting involved. It got bigger and uglier and was getting closer to us. There were no security people around and no one seemed to be getting security so I took off down the steps and rolled my ankle- pretty bad. I got to the bottom of the steps, couldn't find security and couldn't walk. I asked someone to help and he pointed out a semi-important security lady (she had a headset and a WHITE coat, not the neon yellow the others wear) coming toward me so I told them about the fight. The woman (prob not going to break up the fight....) ran up the stairs calling for the police. Meanwhile I wobbled up the steps back to my husband who might have been wondering where I disappeared to. Several people saw me fall and asked if I was ok (what do you say? 'Oh, thanks for asking but no, I'm not really sure if I'm ok. we'll find out tomorrow'?). I guess the fight ended with one idiot pushing the other one so he fell down the stairs (head-first). He didn't hit his head, according to eye witnesses, but landed on his body, then just got up and left. We left after that too. I hobbled to a place I could wait so sweetie-pie could go wander the fields of the stadium parking and try to find the car. I think it's just a bad sprain, but what do I know? It hurts, it's swollen and it's turning a lovely hue of purple as I type this. Oh man, what a bummer.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jenn Taylor CD Release Party and a Humbling Moment

It's one of the most amazing feelings to see your friends succeed. We all share in the smaller little accomplishments in our every day lives, but when there is an opportunity to share part of someone else's really proud moment, it is quite amazing.

Last night we went to Jennifer Taylor's CD release party at Toads Place in New Haven ( Jenn is my oldest (longest) friend. We've known each other since middle school. Our friendship has gone for months at at time without any contact but whenever we get back together, it's like old times again. She has always been incredibly talented musically and it has been fun to watch her grow from Thursday night gigs at Tailgators in Derby to her full time job of 4-6 gigs a week throughout New England. I've seen her perform in Manhattan, on the Cape, and throughout Connecticut at various bars and restaurants. She has grown as a woman and as a musician. She has truly found herself and everytime I see her she seems happier. Even through some really difficult times, she's found humor and lightheartedness, so much more often than I ever could.

So last night, as her crew is setting up the stage and her family and friends gathered at Toads Place, I felt this amazing giddiness. I was so incredibly excited for her. This is her 3rd CD but the first big CD release party I've been invited to. I mean, this is TOADS PLACE. That's a big deal! After catching up with her parents (who came up from NJ) and her sisters and brother, the lady who's kids Jenn and I babysat for (and that dang doll that would NOT stop crying until we rested the couch on it) and bunches of Jenn's friends I've met throughout our friendship and gig-going, we stood waiting for Jenn to come on stage. I was giddy. I'm not kidding. I was grinning ear to ear and giggling to myself. I was SO excited.

She comes on stage, cool as a cucumber, of course. The crowd is cheering as she grabs her guitar and the band starts playing and she starts singing. WOW. Her music feels different. It feels fun and serious at the same time. The lyrics (my favorite part of music) are like a story of her recent life. And she has had a killer year. One song is called In this Past Year (I think) which is really a great song. She called it a country song but had a Jenn flair to it. It mentions some things that make me realize it's time for me to get an update from her... like the fist fight (Jennifer, what happened?) and waking up in the guardrail? (oh my god, I didn't know that's how it happened!?!) All her music felt JUST like her personality. It felt fun, upbeat, and lively- even though there is some seriously heavy stuff in the lyrics.

So I stood there, grinning ear to ear, looking around at all the people who love her, listening to Jenn pour her heart out in her music and I felt an incredibly deep and profound sense of pride. And DAMN she sounded so good! I am so proud of my friend.

So, this morning when I opened the CD to play in my car on the way into work, she brought me to dumbfounded tears when I was reading the lyrics (my favorite part) and saw the dedications. Jenn, thank you. You are a true friend and I am humbled to be noted on your CD. I am so thankful call you my friend. I am thankful to share in your successes and I am so happy to see you pull yourself out of the hardest year ever, to find success in your career, your life and to have found true love. You made it. You are on top, baby. And I am so proud.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I got nothin'

Seriously, I have nothing to say. I've been silent for two full weeks and there's nothing to report, no rants or raves, no nothing. So- hiya, I haven't completely abandoned my post (ha ha ha, get it?) but I just have nothing to say. Life is good.

Jenn Taylor's CD release party at Toad's place tonight (Thursday) at 8pm
UCONN Football Saturday
Dinner with friends Sunday

Life is good, but I have nothing to report...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

FINALLY Tom Brady had his surgery!

I don't know why I've been completely obsessed with Tom Brady's broken ACL and his need for surgery. But I have a few guesses:

1- Perhaps it is because I live in New England and for the last 5(?) years of my life Tom Brady has been my boyfriend
2- Perhaps because I've had the surgery myself and want to share something special with my boyfriend
3- Perhaps I know how quick the 'recovery' is but how long it takes to actually trust your new knee (as I would suspect the greatest football player in the league would need to relearn to do)
4- Perhaps it's because since Tommy hurt his knee, there haven't been any pictures, articles, comments or pictures (did I say that?) of him anywhere in the media

But seriously, what took him so long?!?

And the same with his buddy/pal Coach Weis!?! I have a few ideas why Coach Weis hasn't gotten the surgery yet actually. I suspect it either has to do with his already-screwed-up legs from his botched stomach stapling surgery but perhaps it could also be that unless you intend to be active in your regular life, you can live with a busted ACL. Since Coach Weis's weekends probably (I am speculating here) don't consist of pick-up basketball games or a volleyball game at a neighborhood picnic, he can live without the surgery. However, for a quarterback, playing in a game where men the size of my car are trained to clobber my poor sweet beautiful Tom as hard as they possibly can- yes, he definitely needed that surgery.

As you can imagine, I am relieved to hear Tommy had the surgery. I just wish I could be there to comfort him and care for him. As my husband puts it when I mentioned Tom Brady being my boyfriend: He'll just knock you up and leave you for a supermodel. My response was: That's ok, I'm married.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Office Fridge

It's funny, when you think about the office fridge. Most offices have them, and generally they hold the milk for coffee and perhaps some waters. In our office, we have a full sized side-by-side fridge AND a free soda machine. There are (correction: should be) no sodas in the fridge. I wonder exactly what this fridge should hold.

When our division was smaller and filled mostly with men, our fridge held very few items b/c most of the guys went out and bought lunch. There was the occasional takeout container but mostly was filled with, I know this is sexist, the girls' yogurts and salads. As an employee of a small office, I enjoyed the open fridge space greatly. I would often bring my lunch to work on Monday for the whole week. I kept a drawer as 'mine' and was very good at emptying it each Friday.

As our division grew, more and more people began using the fridge. There's the weight-lifting crew who ate 3-4 chicken breasts and raw potatoes (I swear) daily, along with a 4-pack of protein shakes. Then we grew into whole other floor... with no fridge (two floors of people, one fridge). And the fridge got more and more crowded. This is when I began using an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack, kept next to my desk. This was also when those nasty emails starting coming, sent to the whole office stating things like 'the fridge is a privilege and should not be abused' and 'please remember to tag your food with your initials' or 'do not eat other people's lunches' and my favorite 'whoever put the soda in the freezer and forgot it, it exploded. Don't put soda in the freezer'.

Then began the RULES of the kitchen. There were 10 0f them. Some were things like:
*your mother doesn't live here, clean up after yourself
*do not put dirty dishes in the dishwasher if there are clean ones still in there
*don't leave your oatmeal bowls in the sink soaking. Any found in the sink at the end of the day will be thrown away.

I have since moved to another floor with a less filled-to-capacity fridge and am loving it. While we don't often get milk for coffee consistently so it goes bad before we realize we have it BUT we are not fighting for space. What I don't understand hasn't been said, yelled or posted, my personal pet peeve, is


Seriously people, coolers are IN-SU-LAT-ED, which means, it will prevent transfer heat (or cold)! So what this means is, take your big honking cooler out of the freaking refrigerator or take your food OUT of your insulated device and put it in the fridge. If your cooler works, which is should because it's big and taking up more than your allotted space in the fridge, it is not utilizing the cooling effect of the fridge ONLY TAKING UP SPACE!

Currently, on our floor, there is a polite little sign posted saying at 4pm there will be a clean out and everything perishable with no initials on it will be thrown away. I would have done this earlier this week, however I'll be out of the office next week and realized it's not worth my effort, yes, I'm a jerk. But I suspect the following will be thrown out:

Half eaten sheet cake, presumably for someones birthday
Half eaten pie
cottage cheese/fruit container that has been in the fridge for about 2 weeks now
several plastic shopping bags with one or two items in it
a 24 pack of string cheese that has been in there for about 2 months and not opened
4 gallons of milk that expire soon, but no one drinks them until they've gone bad and their cereal breakfast is ruined.

Once that gets cleaned up, we'll be back to our euphoric open-spaced fridge and I'll be happy, but that person who keeps putting their insulated cooler IN the fridge, you are an idiot and don't deserve to use the fridge space.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Day of Gardening

Anytime I hear people talk about yardwork I have to wonder what their 'yardwork' actually is. We were blessed to move into a beautiful home with a seriously gorgeous- and huge- garden. Last year we piddled around doing our best (and failing) not to kill any of it (some people say you can't kill hostas, but if you don't water them, they die). This isn't some 'go out and pull up dandelions' kind of garden. Our weeds have thorns, build tunnels through the garden popping up in various places and sucking the life out of any pretty plantlife around it. To pull up these vines (that always seems to hang out with invisible poison ivy- you can't see it, but you catch it) you need to pull at the root and watch as the root crawls along the garden around something else, popping up in two or three different sprouts that attack several plants at once. When I wondered last year why our hydrangeas looked brown and gross in one area, not like the other area where they are gorgeous, big white mopheads, I found my way through all the pretty wildflowers and found these awful vines. Ugh.

So this summer, we decided we would stay on top of the garden by doing various things:

1. setting up an irrigation system (laying soaker hoses).

2. pruning the roses regularly (who knew you were supposed to cut them when they were still alive?!)

3. set aside one day a month to tackle the vine/weeds.

So we set up the irrigation system and alas, the hostas did not die! How amazing. They look so much better than last year. Huh, plants like water...

I pruned the roses fairly regularly. This was an easy job on a day after work that wasn't too warm. We have about 12 rose bushes, 2 are teeny weeny ones that don't do too much but the other 10 are these gorgeous variations of roses that all need deadheading (that means cutting the dead flowers off so new ones will grow). While the roses looked great this year (see picture), many ended up growing rather lopsided and we didn't have that nasty beetle infestation that we had last year -imagine a science fiction movie. Sidenote: in an effort to not use pesticides last year on the roses I researched a non-chemical solution to the beetles. One was to pluck each one off separately, but did I mention the science fiction issue? Another was to put some honey, cornstarch and a banana or something like that in a gallon jug. But the wind blew really hard and knocked that disgusting solution over so it leaked into the soil. And finally I found a solution which was to 'harvest about 1/2 cup beetles. Blend in an old blender with some water until liquefied and spray onto the roses affected'. How incredibly gross! I just avoided that side of the yard until they went away and kissed any idea of a vase full of roses goodbye.

And this year we did stay on top of the weeds and vines. By the way, did you know that mint is a weed? In fact, it's a violent weed. Kind of like those thorny weeds, it builds tunnels in your garden and pops up everywhere. While it smells lovely to mow it, like a gum factory, and even better to make mojitos or some sort of fun summertime drink with a sprig of mint in it, please take my words of caution... do not plant it without the plastic bucket it comes in. Let me rephrase- if you buy mint to plant in your garden and it comes in a plastic container, dig a whole, drop the entire plastic container in the hole and fill the dirt around the plastic thing.

Ok, so back to our day of gardening. We decide we will dig up some plants that we have and don't particularly like to do the Square Foot Gardening. We read this book and by doing this easy system, you can have a lovely amount of vegetables growing in a small area. So we dug up some oregano, about 3 - 4 pounds of it. Smelled like pizza but it's too much to use, even for our Italian neighbors. Maybe I could sell it on the black market, but eh. We dug up a rose bush to move it closer to the other roses and out of the way of our soon-to-be veggie garden. We dug up a huge lavender plant which turned out to be about 4 all smushed together and moved that to other areas of the garden and finally moved this big mammoth of a bush to a place we (hopefully) eliminated all the mint that we let grow wild. WOW. what a ton of work. This is just prep work for the springtime too. Oh my goodness.

So after only 3 hours in the garden, we are filthy, aching backs and our hands ache, but wow, it's so nice to see this big blank area in our yard.

Our gardening to do list for next year:

*split and throw away about half of our black eyed susans (they grow so wide and we have plenty)

*build the veggie garden

*pray to the garden gods that we got all the mint roots and it stops popping up all over our yard.

*edge the garden so we know where the yard stops and the garden begins

*don't kill anything else

*pray the stuff we dug up and moved will grow

I wonder what other people's 'yardwork' is. I love our yard, but when people garden as a hobby, I wonder exactly what that means too? Are people just phrasing it a different way? Rather than being a slave to their garden, the 'enjoy' it? To be honest, I love some of the gardening. But days like this are not enjoyable, they are hard stinking work. I am so happy it was only 3 hours today.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Golden Parachute? Infinitely Wrong

I just read an article about 12 defunct companies who are, in a large part, the cause for our financial instability and the 'golden parachutes' these CEOs are being rewarded for their severance of leading their companies into bankruptcy or being bailed out by the government. For the 12 companies, their CEO's were given, in total, $519M dollars severence. Surprisingly the former CEO of AIG decline the severance package which was worth $22M, perhaps for a better deal? Or b/c he's the only one who has a soul.

The financial sector is in complete and utter turmoil and we are rewarding these screw-ups with a big fat check. They never have to work again, and probably couldn't find a job where anyone would hire them. Imagine the interview process:

Q: Please tell us about a time you were able to resolve a large problem in a way where everyone seemed to benefit
A: Well, when running fill in the blank company we ran into some financial problems but through my ties with the government, despite it being an election year, I was able to raise a whopping $85B. And I was the cause of a donation of $700B from the government for my failed friends too!

Golden parachutes are complete and utter BS and should not be given or awarded. What sort of message is that sending? Hey CEOs, it's ok to screw up but be sure if you do to screw up big, but be sure to set yourself up with a killer severance package regardless of what happens to the company? That is very very wrong.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Weekend in Michigan City (and Notre Dame)

We made our annual pilgrimage to South Bend for a Notre Dame football game. My record is 3 and 1. They lost last year, but this year they won! And it was a really great game to be at.

We arrived Friday at Midway around 9:30 am, central time. The time zones are all screwed up there b/c the county that South Bend is in doesn't believe in daylight savings time (or something like that) so depending on what time of year we go it's either equal to central or eastern time. This year it was equal to eastern time which really makes the flight times complicated. And to further complicate things, our hotel, in Michigan City, was in a different time zone than ND, the same as the airport. So all weekend I had no idea what time it was, thank goodness my sweetie is very good at that.

We head to South Bend for breakfast at Nick's Patio (there was no patio) and a really lazy day walking around campus on one of the most beautiful days of the year. There wasn't a cloud in the sky(and it was pouring cats and dogs in New England- hee hee hee). We saw the Gold Dome, the Basilica (where the players go to mass every Saturday before the game), the Grotto, the bookstore and a whole lot of beautiful sky. We even sat on a bench before the pep rally where this old guy (like in his 80s) was scalping his tickets. He talked to everyone 'who do you think will win the game?' or 'got tickets for the game tomorrow?' One guy bit and asked about the tickets. The old fellow said he only had one, but it was on the 50 yard line about 11 rows up. The guy looked really amazed and thrilled. Then the old guy said it's $100. Sidenote: the ticket process is really competitive and complicated weighing in how much money you donated and some other stuff i have no idea about but once the tickets are gotten it's quite unethical to sell them for more than face value. It's sort of a gentleman's handshake type thing. People who do sell them for more than face value tend to have their names dragged through the mud- people are relentless about this. Ok, so back to the old guy. So the young guy leaps up and says- no way, you don't sell tickets for more than face value and walks away. The old guy sort-of shrugs and says something about some annual fee he has to pay for season tickets and wants to make up the cost, but the guy is gone. About 30 minutes later he comes back and the old fellow gives him the ticket for $65 and then jumps on his bike and rides off. Quite a funny scene.

It's amazing to be at a ND football game. It's nothing like any UCONN game. There are decades of tradition and respect built into every game. My absolute favorite part of the ND tradition is when you walk into this amazing and mammoth stadium, the ticket takers make a strong point to look into your eyes and say 'Welcome to Notre Dame Stadium'. To every person! It's so cool! The band has about 36 hours of straight activities beginning before the pep rally on Friday night, to the drums section playing at midnight in front of the building with the gold dome. On Saturday fans line up on the sidewalk to cheer on the players from their walk from mass/service to the stadium, all dressed in suits. The dorms have bbqs selling burgers, dogs and brauts to raise money for dorm stuff. Green with body paint people running around. The band has these 'guards' that clear the way for them through crowds. It's a bunch of guys who wear kilts and do a sort of march in front of the band. So the band does a march through campus and into the stadium and people line the streets to cheer them on and clap to the ND fight song. You enter the stadium, and are personally welcomed, which is so cool! It's really old-school with no jumbotron and bleachers throughout except for the high roller seats. All students are given tickets to every home game and all sit in different sections depending on their seniority. They never sit through the whole game, have certain participation in the game (during kick offs they do a cheer, at 3rd down on defense everyone takes their keys out and jingles them (for a key play). I don't think there is music that is piped through loudspeakers, only the band and they can fire up just about anyone. Some songs they play have the entire student section doing things along with it. It is so incredibly cool! AND, oh, my second favorite part- they often have an air force flyover during the national anthem. I just love that. It is truly something to go to a ND game. An ultimate experience to be part of something so big. There is so much respect at a ND game- for the players, for the students, for the band (who ever would have guessed?) for the tradition. I think that's the most amazing thing- the respect for tradition.