Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

No, I didn't go trick or treating or to a costume party. I wore this poodle skirt to zumba class on Thursday, hence the tennis shoes. Anyone that wore a costume was entered in a drawing for a t-shirt. I didn't win but I looked pretty cute, right? It almost made me want to wear it to work on Friday. Almost. Hope you all have a very scary Halloween Sunday!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Piewiches

Man, oh man do I love fall! I think one of my favorite things about fall is pumpkin. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pasta and just plain old pumpkin. I stumbled across this recipe while looking for a low fat pumpkin-rific dessert. They are Pumpkin Piewiches! You can find it here on Spark Recipes. I did take one of the commenters recommendations and added a 4 oz. box of fat free/sugar free cheesecake pudding mix (dry).

Yum, yum! The recipe says it only yields 12 but I got 24. Maybe I didn't add enough filling? Anyway, it's pumpkin, cool whip, seasonings generally found in pumpkin pie, the pudding mix all sandwiched between 2 graham crackers and freeze them. That's it! Simple and delicious, and healthy-ish to boot!

Monday, October 25, 2010

We're IN!

I promise to post pictures of paint colors and furniture and all rooms just as soon as I load them on the ol' laptop from my camera. But for now I will tell you, being a homeowner is awesome! I didn't think I would be as into it as I am; John feels the same way. Slowly but surely, things are coming together a la maison de G. Sure, curtains still need to be hung (and purchased), rugs unfurled, more artwork put up (a little to the left, no back to the right, left again) but it's feeling more like home everyday. And it's all ours.

Sadie's adjustment to the house has been quick. So fast in fact that she staged her first jailbreak from the yard on the very first day. She's currently being taunted by ghosts blowing in the wind as they hang on the porch of a house across the street (how many prepositional phrases can a girl pack into one sentence?). Ever watchful, she also did not care for a backyard neighbor painting his fence the other day. She has many more duties in the house than in the condo. There are more places to explore and much more distance between me watching TV in the living room and John playing Xbox upstairs. At least she no longer barks at hall noise.

Yesterday, I went on my first run in probably a month. It felt awesome! There are paved trails all around our development. And no more flat sidewalks for my flat butt. Inclines baby, everywhere you turn. I hope it stays warm enough for me to run outside for at least a little while longer. Or, maybe I should toughen up and learn to run in cold weather. I'd have to buy more running gear......hmmm. Here's a funny running story from the move.

We hired movers for the first time instead of moving ourselves. Knowing how heavy our bedroom furniture is and knowing what moving up and down 3 flights of stairs means, it was $300 well spent. On moving day, I was in charge of meeting the movers and overseeing progress. In order to be comfortable on what proved to be a long day of sweaty manual labor and so that I didn't have to keep hiking up my loose jeans, I was wearing yoga pants. As I lead the movers up the stairs I thought, "I wonder if these old guys are staring at my butt." No, I'm not conceited. It's just that they were right on my heels up those stairs so at some point I'm certain my posterior was right in their faces. Later on:

Mover: Are you a runner?
Ashley: Yes, why?
Mover: Oh, you just look like a runner. I can tell when someone runs.
Ashley: *nervous chuckle* Oh.

........a little later.......

Mover: I didn't offend you did I, asking if you ran?
Ashley: No, it's just funny because I never used to run or enjoy running and I don't really think of myself as a runner so when other people say it, it's strange.
Mover: I used to run before I got too old and fat.
Ashley: *nervous chuckle again* Oh well, you'll have that.

The whole interaction was a little creepy but also somewhat flattering. If someone notices your muscle tone, that's a compliment, right? I'm going to chalk it up to the yoga pants that leave no imagination about what my quad muscles look like. I guess I shouldn't underestimate their power on my ass either though. And again, I really don't often think of myself as a runner but, I guess I am one. Thanks, mover man. I think.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Orange is the New Black

I forget where Orange is the New Black was recommended to me as a good read but, they were right. I was looking for some compelling non-fiction and I found it. Piper Kerman committed a drug related crime in her twenties. After getting caught up with the wrong people, she began couriering (that’s a word) money for drugs around many countries. As a willing accomplice to these crimes, Kerman knew what she was doing was wrong and eventually got away from her then girlfriend/drug lady to set her life down the right path. Some ten years later she was convicted of her crime and sentenced to a prison term of 15 months.

Orange is the New Black is a fascinating view of life in a womens’ prison by someone who probably shouldn’t have been there, though she was guilty of the crime she committed. Kerman recounts the daily toil of prison life. She delves into the relationships between prisoners, both good and bad. We also learn a bit more about what life is like trying to hold together a relationship with a fiancĂ© on the outside. Her account was truly captivating.

If you’re looking for an absorbing piece of non-fiction, give this one a try. It was a great inside look at prison life. Kerman has a wonderful way of painting the lives of her fellow prisoners so the reader begins empathizing with them, despite their criminal backgrounds.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Moving moving

Spoiler Alert: We are in the house now! I wrote this before our move but forgot to post it.

Living your life in the upheaval of moving is not very fun. I made the mistake of packing up my cookbooks weeks ago. Ever since then, I’ve been making very unimaginative meals. Last week, I finally broke down and busted a couple of them out of the box in which they’ve been trapped. On Sunday, I reminded myself that I wanted to make muffins for moving weekend. Then, I remembered that the muffin pan got packed already. I have been dutifully packing all my worldly possessions that I thought I might not need for the time being. I forgot about the muffins as yet to be baked.

Packing everything also included all of my sewing and crafting supplies. I haven’t been able to sew anything for months! First, we were too busy. Now, we’re too busy and they’re packed. In fact, I think my sewing machine has already made it to the house to scope things out for the rest of his crafty friends. I’m sure they’re all very excited to have a designated craft space in which they can be left out instead of being packed up at the end of, or in the middle of, each project. I have many projects lined up for when I have totally unpacked but who knows when that will be?

You may or may not know that I am a big time planner. I research the heck out of vacations and purchases, no matter how small they seem. I’m constantly trying to find new events to attend. How did people find out about all this stuff before the internet? Unheard of! One step of my planning process is the agonizing. Decisions that seem mundane and unimportant are a cause of great concern for me. I am finding this doubly true as a home owner. I scoured countless websites and stores for a new bedding set for the master bedroom. It took me weeks to settle on one and when I finally found it, it was back-ordered until November. I ordered it anyway and, as luck would have it, the bedding arrived earlier this week, ready to be pressed into action on our first night in the house.

Currently on my list of agony: kitchen drawer pulls and knobs, rug for under the dining table, bathroom light fixtures, bathroom mirrors, curtain fabric for multiple rooms, living room artwork and ultimately, new living room furniture. I think the only thing that’s really saving me is that I can’t and shouldn’t purchase all of these items at one time. That would be a lot of money to spend right before vacation and Christmas. So, time is on my side. Or is it? Wouldn’t it be easier if I could just pick the right knobs and make my curtains and call it a day? Time only equals more agonizing. I want to make the correct choices that suit our needs and make our home a homey place to live. Someday, these decisions will all be made. How long that takes me is another matter.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max was recommended on a book board I read. I had to wait longer than I felt necessary before making it to the top of the hold list for this one. If you’re unfamiliar, Tucker Max is a player. There are many other words to describe him but we’ll just keep it PG here for now. Apparently, he has some sort of website in which he solicits girls for dates or something and then writes about these trysts. I don’t know; I didn’t actually go to the site. This book is all about his various conquests. These are alcohol-laden tales where the whole goal is hooking up with girls he may or may not remember the names of (usually not). Admittedly, some of the stories were funny but then they started to get pretty old, really fast. How many times do you need to read about how he had sex with these girls and the steps he took to lure them into bed? His writing style is very conversational and thus laced with profanity. But, he is very frank. Refreshing? I don’t know. This memoir was only mildly amusing to me, and a very fast read that wasn't particularly well-written. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who is easily offended by stories regarding: drinking, sex, debauchery, people having broken moral compasses, etc. and so forth.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Hard Day's Work

I am not cut out for manual labor. After the first day of painting I thought, “This is nice, working with my hands.” Then, my back starting hurting in ways I never thought possible. My hands were cramping from holding the paint roller for hours on end. I have callouses, callouses I tell you! While I love seeing all the color on the walls of the house, I’m so glad that our painting (for now) is coming to a close. After 2 full weekends and a few weeknights, I finally learned how not to get paint in my hair and I don’t back into wet walls anymore.

Such physical work really takes it out of you. It will somehow allow you to manage to drop a giant glob of butter down the front of your shorts while making corn casserole. You will smash the butter between the front of your thigh and the cabinet so that it doesn’t plop on the floor presenting Sadie with a butter smorgasbord. You will laugh uncontrollably in a fit of hysterics while your husband shakes his head. He shakes his head even more pathetically when you ask if you can still use this butter in the recipe since it didn’t touch the ground. He is equally as exhausted but prepared his portion of the meal, barbecue chicken, with no such trouble.

You are so tired that even though it’s an unseasonable 86 degree October day, you won’t be able to walk your poor dog who has been neglected all weekend because of said painting. She is no longer allowed at the house during painting owing to an unfortunate incident last week where she ended up with orange paint on her butt. All you can do is lounge on the couch. At night, you are beyond fatigued but cannot sleep because you keep thinking about how good your walls look from all your hard work.

We finally move in on Friday and I know it will all be worth it. Maybe then the scale will rebound. Even though hour after hour of painting and cleaning seems like it would burn a ton of calories, I don’t think it’s making up for the amount of times we’ve eaten out in the last two weeks and the lack of cardio in my normal routine. Come October 17th, it’s back to being homeowners, living the dream, and working the daily healthy grind.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Drums of Autumn

SPOILERS – Do not read if you’re planning on reading this series and definitely don’t read if you haven’t read this one or are in the middle of one of the earlier books.

Drums of Autumn is the 4th book in Diana Gabaldon’s acclaimed Outlander series. I can’t wait until they start making these movies. I don’t think they’ve even been cast yet though. Anyway, I had to buy Drums of Autumn straight away so I could start reading it right after Voyager. I didn’t think I would get into these books as much as I am.

This one focuses a lot on Claire and Jamie’s daughter, Brianna. Her relationship with Roger Wakefield has grown stronger despite the distance between them. We also find that Claire and Jamie have made it to America. After much searching with Roger to find out if her mother indeed made it back safely and what became of her and Jamie, Brianna decides that she too must go back in time as well. She wants to reunite with her mother and also meet her biological father, Jamie. After Roger realizes what she’s done, he too goes through the stones of Craigh na Dun, back in time in search and rescue of Brianna. Both, separately, obtain passage to America to find Claire and Jamie. And a world of trouble!

I think that’s as far as I’ll really go in my brief summary. I didn’t know Brianna was going to go back too so I was pretty excited when I got to that part in the book. Then, I realized if I had read the back jacket cover, it would have told me that plot point. Good thing I was surprised! I liked Drums of Autumn, though not as much as Voyager. I liked getting to know Brianna more and seeing her interactions with Jamie and Roger. And more than one time I gasped out loud while reading, which John thinks is hilarious. Anyway, if you’re reading and enjoying the series, Drums of Autumn will not disappoint.

And thankfully, I fixed my ‘what to read next’ dilemma. Drums did not finish with a cliffhanger so I feel safe in setting aside the series for a bit. I have 2 books lined up already and I’m dangerously close to the top of the hold list for the new David Sedaris. YEA!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Library Conundrum

It’s paint city over here in Newhouseville. Being a new homeowner means there’s lot and lots of work to be done. Lots and lots of work to be done means hardly any extra time for reading. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because, well duh, I can’t read as much! But, it’s a blessing because I still can’t figure out what to do about my library situation. I absolutely adore my library, the Washington-Centerville Public Library. They have an awesome selection of books and media. It’s unmatched! I most especially like the Express Book and DVD sections. These have allowed me to check out the newest acquisitions without having to wait on the hold list for them. Very convenient. Also convenient is the ability to request books online. While I once roamed the stacks looking for titles that caught my eye and desperately trying to remember which books I had heard were good to read, I can now just search for a book right then and there. If it’s ready, then it’ll just be waiting for me at the counter! If I have to wait, it notifies me when the book is available. I LOVE this feature. Huge time saver. I’m going to attribute a large part of my high book counts to this. What an aid in hitting my 50 books a year goal. I could go on and on about my library worshipping. I have been with this library more than 5 years. I first discovered the Woodbourne branch at my very first apartment upon moving to Dayton. As I moved to a nicer neighbor, I found a second branch of this same library family. What luck!

Alas, I am at a crossroads. Whereas, it used to take me approximately 7 minutes to get to the library, from the house it will now take me 15 entire minutes, and that’s without any traffic. If I were to head over there say around 5:00pm on a weekday, forget it! 20+ minutes easily. There is a closer library in my new city but I am afraid of it. I am scared it won’t live up to my library standards. I have been on their website and they don’t have my beloved Express section. Perhaps what they do have is a Suggestion Box. Probably the only thing to do is get a card at the new library and test it out for myself. Maybe I will love it even more than my precious WCPL. Just maybe….. In the meantime! As I feverishly work my way through the Outlander series, books I have broken my rule on not purchasing books to buy, no less, I don’t have to decide what to do about my library quandary just yet. I’m safe for a little while at least. Plus, I’m waiting for a few books at my (soon to be old?) library, so I’ll certainly borrow those from there. Since I’m already more than halfway up the list and all. It would be silly to cancel those requests.

Is it considered library cheating to change to a new library when my old library is technically within driving distance but not at all convenient to me? Do you belong to more than one library? Is it awful to play library favorites? That’s quite like playing favorites among your children, no? In the literary world, however, one certainly has a favorite book or even many favorite books. I suppose books are more akin to children in this scenario anyway. Can one have multiple favorite libraries? Ah me, what’s a literarian (made up word?) to do?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Things I Will Not Miss About Renting

1) Shared walls
2) Having to pick up after Sadie each and every time she goes to the bathroom for fear of being turned into the COA
3) Living on the third floor
4) Not having a garage
5) Dealing with colors on walls that you would never in a million years have chosen
6) Saying hi to your rude neighbor even though she never returns said 'hello'
7) Answering to a landlord
8) A communal hallway that smells like smoke
9) My leaky fridge

.......there are many more but, in short, I'm so glad to report that we closed on our first home on Friday!! It's been a long weekend of painting and there are many more to come but, it's ours! Sorry if my posts are super sporadic the next couple weeks. I know I'll be extremely busy but eventually, I'll be here again regularly. Since you'll miss me, I'll try not to stay away too long!