Saturday, March 24, 2012

Birthday 'weekend': Day 2

After a fun-filled day of shopping on Thursday, I was surprised to find myself wandering around a shopping complex the very next day.  But, I wanted to go check out a restaurant that had been recommended by my friend all winter long.  Trying to reign in our spending, I decided lunch would be better than dinner.  It was such a beautiful day, I had planned to walk in and out of shops, have lunch, grab a cocktail outside, and a little more window shopping.
Instead, my usual mood set in, and I didn't want to spend more money on cocktails when I knew I could have a gin & tonic in my own back yard once we got home. 
We had lunch at a place called Bleu. 

My friend told the food is all very fresh because the chef has limited refrigeration, and therefore brings stuff in fresh, daily!  She also told me that the portions are generous in comparison to the prices.  The draw for Hubby was the 5 cheese mac & cheese with linguica.  It came, piping hot, in a huge bowl.  He took half of it home.  I had a harder time deciding on my meal.  There was a lovely turkey and bacon sandwich on cranberry-pecan bread.  I thought about the quiche; or, maybe the Croque Monsieur.  I ended up with the ham and Gruyere buckwheat crepe with mushrooms and poached egg.  Oh my! I didn't quite finish it, but I wanted to!  It was a ham and cheese sandwich wrapped in a delicious pancake with an egg on top!  Breakfast and lunch rolled into one neat little package!  We were very pleased with the food.  I had a pomegranate margarita, too. 
We sat by the open windows (outdoor seating not yet set up) with the sun pouring in. (that's not us, I took this off their website)

After lunch we walked around.  Stopped in at the bookstore and pottery barn.  The saleswoman immediately commented that she liked my dress.
This is the dress I wore, with my little blue crocheted sweater over it.
On our way out, she said, 'now I remember what your dress reminds me of!  You look like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when she is at the derby, or whatever.'  I have never seen the movie and had no idea what she was talking about, but I laughed and left.
We headed over to the restaurant where we ate on New Year's Eve, to maybe grab a drink and sit outside, but my tummy was super full and, as I said, I could have a 'free' drink at home.  So we sat by the fountain (which also is not running yet...just because it was a beautiful spring day, doesn't cancel out the fact that it is still March, and we have normal temps on their way back) and soaked up a little sun.
Before heading home, we stopped by Cupcake Charlie's to get Hubs a cupcake.  He went with the Chocolate Raspberry Surprise.

Why didn't I get a cupcake, since it was MY birthday??  Well, because earlier in the morning, we went for our walk to the beach, as we like to do when we both have the morning off.  And, we always stop at the Underground Bakery for our coffee and to say hi to our friends.  Hubby works there a couple days a week, and Laurie & Ian are friends of ours (Laurie was the one who convinced me to run that 5K last September), so she made me my usual Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse birthday cake!  Hubby doesn't like peanut butter very much and especially not as dessert. 
So I have a whole cake to eat!!  I certainly didn't need a cupcake to go with it!  I didn't even bother slicing...I just dug right in!! big plans.  Just winding down and preparing to get back to reality.  I can't believe how it really does feel like I've been out of work for a long time.  It's only been a day and a half, really, and then today...but it seems like longer.  That means I'm relaxing, so that's good.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Birthday 'weekend': Day 1

I treated myself to an extra day off this week.  Today is my birthday and I took it as my regular day off; but, I also requested tomorrow off for a mini vacation.  To top it all off, I only worked until 11 a.m. yesterday.  By the time we were headed back home from the store, I said, 'oh! I totally forgot I was at work this morning!!'
We have been wanting to go to Ikea to replace some stuff around the house. 
This is the set we have.  They have, of course changed to bowls, but there were still some blue and brown in the old shape, so we got those.
We had a couple bowls to replace, and our duvet cover was thread-bare.

This one's not on their website or in the catalog, but we happened upon it in the store!
It seems that, if you are the type of person who doesn't regularly buy things for yourself, the list is fairly long when you do eventually break down and go shopping.  As we were wandering around the store, we found several other things that we've been wanting to replace.  We have just a couple pots/pans left with Teflon, and they are peeling.  So, we took the opportunity to buy a shiny new skillet, so that we can completely rid ourselves of that nasty Teflon!
I sat in a chair (one I have, that my mom gave me when she moved) and put my feet up...I decided that I would use some of my birthday money from my MIL to buy myself a footstool. 

I got a beige cushion, though.  There was an adorable cushion with acorns on it, but the chair cushion I have is already a crazy pattern, so it would've looked ridiculous!
While wandering around the dining room sets, I spotted a cute outdoor set.  Now, Ikea has some really cute sets this year, including one that has a great canopy thingy.  But they are all priced per piece and we just don't have the money to spend on something just because I think it's beautiful.  However, the set I spotted was sold as a set: table, bench, and 2 chairs.  For $99!!
Not a great picture, but it's from the website.

Sure, it's a luxury item, but it's something we have been talking about for years.  We thought we'd just get a cheap picnic table, but we haven't had any luck finding one under $100 anyway!  Now we just have to find a flat area to put it...that'll be the hard part.
The very difficult part about shopping at Ikea, is that there are so many things that 'we could use' or have been 'meaning to get' that are really great deals.  We don't NEED them desperately, but the store is an hour and a half's not a regular trip.  In fact, it had been two years since our last visit!  All of the displays, oddly enough, make me wish for a tiny city apartment to decorate!  Hubby says he likes going there because it reminds him of when we bought our house, and when we had to go for stuff for our Nantucket apartment.  It's a strangely romantic place for us to spend the day.
I had checked out the website before we went, to see if there was anything I wanted to find at the store.  I signed up for their 'Ikea Family' card.  I could've gotten a free coffee, but didn't.  I did, however, get a free vanilla cone!  They have some deals around the store, where members save on certain items...usually around $5 off.  The deals are scattered and you really have to look for them, but of course nothing we bought was 'member priced'.  They did have a set of the dishes we already use for $5 off, though.

So, that was yesterday.  Today we are headed out of our little town AGAIN to grab lunch at a French restaurant my friend has been talking up.  They have a 4 cheese and Linguica mac&cheese, so that was enough to get my hubs there!  It's in a shopping complex that also has the cute place we went for New Year's Eve AND a cupcake bakery.  Looks like we may have a nice day for shopping and cocktails!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Custom order and an oatmeal review

I finished my custom necklace a whole week ahead of schedule!  As I was making it using a free minute here and a free minute there, it seemed like it was taking longer than anticipated.  But I guess that is the nature of a project that has 'drying time' to account for.  I think it came out great.  Very close to the original sketch.  The shape is not as severe as it is in the sketch, but working with paper has its limits.
My birthday is around the corner but I got a gift this week.  I don't get to the bakery much these days since I'm not around when Hubby walks, and he's been very busy lately so he doesn't get his afternoon walks in as much.  But this past week, we headed out for a walk (my day off, so we went before he was off to work) in the morning. 'Happy Birthday!' Ian exclaimed.  To which Hubby replied, 'it's next week'.  Then Laurie came out, 'did you give her her gift?'  The next thing I know, I'm holding a box with the word 'SAMPLE' stamped on it.  It made noise like little beads in a cup...kind of like a rattle.  I opened it to find 6 instant oatmeal cups!  'I love oatmeal!' 

I later found out that when it arrived they asked Hubby if he like oatmeal, and he said no but that I loved it.  So they said to give it to me as a birthday gift.
Well, I tried out a cup this morning.

 'R.U.NUTZ?'  It has walnuts, almonds, flax &sunflower seeds.  It also claims to have a 'dash' of brown sugar.  Now, I don't use sweeteners in my oatmeal, so to me...all I could taste was the brown sugar. 

Don't get me wrong, it was tasty.  Sometimes sweet is nice.  I would totally eat it again, if offered.  But, I went to their website, because I was curious as to what the price was.  Granted, if the bakery decided to get this for their shop, they would be getting wholesale prices.  But, to buy it at their online retail shop, Umpqua Oats sells cases of 12 for $42!!  That's $3.50 per cup!!  For $2.29 I can buy a months supply of steel cut oats at work.  Throw in some nuts and seeds and it's the same thing...convenience is so overpriced!  I mean sure, it's all natural and wholesome and full of fiber and protein, but you really can get the same for less with just a tiny bit of leg work, you know?
So bottom line: very yummy...a bit pricey.
And for the record, I still have 5 more flavors to try!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

what a yummy day!

The only crappy (pardon the pun) part of today is that I am sitting here waiting for the septic to be pumped! Eww...I know, but that is my life.  Hubby made the appointment and then said, 'oh, I have to be in Boston that day!  I can change it if you like.'  No...what's the point. I just hate having people over to 'do work' at the house.  Do I sit outside and chat?  Do I offer them beverages?  Do I watch through the window to make sure I'm ready with the check when they come in??  Of course, in this day and age, I could've probably given my credit card number and not even had to have been here! Doh!  Oh, well.

Today really has been 'yummy', though.  I got to work this morning (at my Trader Joe's job) to find out that I had a half hour at the end of my shift for a 'tasting'!!  We have a new flyer coming out next week and so this week, the crew gets to taste a sampling of what's featured.  I got to try the Sesame Almonds AND the sesame cashews, because they were opened by mistake.  Both very good.  We have Chili and Lime cashews that are FABULOUS, too.
There have been a lot of new products coming out, too.  Kimchi and Kimchi Fried Rice, for instance.  The straight Kimchi I have not tried, but the fried rice is very I think we can assume the same is true for the other. 
Do you like warm chocolate chip cookies?  Do you like them 'deep dish style' with a gooey chocolate center?  Well, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the Journey to the Center of the cookie is for you!

Let's see...what else did I have for 'lunch'?  A small taste of butter lettuce with Pear Champagne Vinaigrette; a taste of the (fairly new) Harvest chicken salad

 oh, dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt!

 pasta with canned artichoke hearts & Italian Gorgonzola; the crispy rice cereal is also in the up-coming flyer, so the demo girl made rice crispy treats with peanut butter and melted chocolate.
So, even though I have to get up at 3a.m., sometimes my shift ends better than others!  I love that they let us try all the food there!  Sometimes, I feel like a commercial or like I am writing my own flyer notes, but I like to share what I learn.
As a side note:  if you, like me, are not that into blue/Gorgonzola cheeses, but are curious or like it a little milder, try the Italian version.  It is much milder, not so tangy, and very creamy. 

We also have a Blue cheese featured this month that I have not is very smooshy...I don't think I'll like it, so I'm putting off tasting it.

oh, I almost forgot what won my award (in my mind...not an actual award) for biggest surprise: the NEW crispy chickenLESS nuggets!  Texture and taste are spot-on or near spot-on, and they are actually crispy!  It's not the product in the's a new a little bag/pouch.
Having just found it sort of difficult to find pictures of the newer products we have, I was thinking maybe I should get back to a food post.  Like I did when I would have cheese tastings for lunch on Sundays.  I'll have to give it some serious thought...I do love eating!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

What's Happenin' here

I can't believe how long it's been since my last blog.  I mean, I've gone longer, sure, but time is wacky...especially with the time change yesterday.
My sister and I have been dealing with some stuff with our ailing/aging father, which as anyone who has dealt with aging parent issues knows, is not a fun, easy, or quick process.  It's come to the point where he's resisting any suggestions from us anyway, so everything we've done so far has been a waste of time.  And that is enough to make one lose all track of time!
And of course, work.  Still hoping to cut a day, which will mean cutting a whole job.  And that job has asked me to work a shift I wasn't hired for because the other girl is 'getting tired of doing it' now that her 'kids are getting into baseball season'  and she would 'like to see some games'.  Please!  I'm so tired of this.  So, of course, hating going to work 2 days doesn't help time go by very quickly.

Here is the bit I'm excited about.  An anxious excitement, really.  I was contacted through etsy to do a custom order.  My first (well, my first through etsy, from a stranger)!  It is for a woman who sponsors a girl in India.  There are limits to what goes through the mail for these things...paper only.  Everything has to be mailed in a regular letter sized envelope.  No cardboard mailers, no metal...just paper. 
So I am currently, between the two jobs, touring assisted living places, and begging my father to come to his senses, making a paper cross pendant for a necklace to go India. 
The sketching was easy, but then when she decided which one she wanted and I actually had to figure out how to make the piece...the anxiety definitely kicked in!
Step 1: make a metal frame to shape the cross.  I gave her the option of a squared off cross or this more 'shapely' one.  I wasn't thinking about how to actually shape it!  A metal frame (this was my 3rd attempt) with more metal shapers for the inside.
The result was much better than I had anticipated by the struggling I did to make it happen!
Now comes the hard part of getting all the quilled little bits inside and somewhat symmetrical.  Although, that should help it hold it's shape.  The finished product should be really cute.  It's for a 10 year old girl, so it'll be all pink and yellow and pastel inside.  The whole thing is just an inch long and about .75" wide.  I'm excited to finish it.  I just wish I didn't have to wait until Wednesday to finally get the time. 
Oh, and Moxie got a gift from a co-worker of mine.  She (the co-worker) had gone to Las Vegas for a conference, and left her cat at the kennel for a week.  She brought back gifts for us kennel girls as a thank you for taking car of her cat (who is super cute and cuddly, so that was gift enough!). 
Moxie got a bandanna that says: 'What happens on the walk, stays on the walk. Las Vegas'
She's not keen on wearing 'clothes' so I only did it for the picture. 
Her eye and ear are looking good, too.  Can't wait to not have to keep putting goop in her eye and clean her ear every other day.  Although, I swear to be a better dog mother and clean her ears more often, so this doesn't happen again!
Well, we finally got our new scrub uniforms in.  Navy all the way, now, with monogrammed tops!  I also noticed when i went in to do my extra Sunday night shift, that they've started scheduling me at 7:30 rather than 7a.m.  Which is fine with me, except that I'm still going in at 7 if i know it's a full kennel.  Last night i went in to walk 4 employee dogs and take care of 2 employee cats.  I wonder if the owner, who is always complaining about costs v. revenue realizes that he just paid wages for us to take care of pets that he's getting no revenue for?  Talk about a negative situation!  At least he has money for our uniforms!!  Blargh!! This job depresses me more and more...I'm shutting up now..
Happy thoughts....
Happy days...
We're going away in a couple weeks!! (well, just for a day, but yippee....road trip!)
It was light at 6pm. last night....but now it's 6:30 and the sun's just coming out...I love sunrise.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Swedish, French, Chinese

My birthday is coming up and, as usual, I'm dreading it.  No, not because I'm getting older.  And I guess 'dread' is a pretty severe word to use...more like I could take it or leave it. 
The decision to do or not to do something in celebration is always an issue for me.  On the one hand, it is fun to hang with a bunch of friends and have cocktails and cake and whatnot.  One the other hand, for me, I hate being at a function that's purpose is to expose me to everyone around me!
So, i generally have my sisters and aunt come over and we have a little tea party or an early cocktail party...or, sometimes one flows over into the next!
This year, I took the day after my birthday off just in case I decided to do something, even though this year I am leaning closer to hanging out by myself, possibly sleeping, the whole day.
Then this weekend I thought it might be nice to not work on my birthday, either...take TWO whole days off!  And, get ready for a shocker, maybe leave the Cape and spend a fun day with Hubby!  Oh my!
We need a new duvet cover, desperately...i realized that ours has ripped from one end to the other!  Through all the washings over the past 8 or so years, it has become completely thread-bare!  You can probably guess our bedroom is not one of those that you might see in a magazine!
We haven't been to Ikea in forever,and it's always a fun place to spend a day, in my opinion.

Even though we never get to buy all the things we want to (though, I always want a cinnamon roll, and I always get one!), we do need to find the cover, and we have broken half of our soup bowls, so there are things we need. 
My thought on the day was to go to Ikea and then we could hit this restaurant my friend has been raving about, on the way back.

It's a French restaurant and she says everything is fresh (the kitchen has little refrigerated storage, I guess...everything comes in fresh daily!) and she and her son had been going for lunch nearly once a week and said the prices were good.  But, that is for lunch...I think the dinner menu is a bit pricey.  We are still deciding what to do about that...we do like to have drinks with dinner, and that can get expensive.
One way or another, though, I will have cake!
I LOVE peanut butter mousse cake...but this is, well...just look at it!!!

And, for the Chinese bit....
No, I'm not getting a puppy for my birthday, but this adorable 8.5 week old pug came in for an exam and vaccines yesterday!!! I saw her on the schedule and I was giddy all day waiting for her to show up!  She looks just like my Moxie did when we got sweet...such a cute little pink belly!!!   Puppies are the best thing in the world, bar none! to work; but, sadly, no pug puppies are due in today.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hello, March

It is hard to keep track of time this winter, with the unusual weather we've been having.  Our little corner of the world has mostly been getting an ocassional rainy day, or warmish spring-like weather.  We've had a couple bitterly cold days, but only one major 'storm' that required shovels and plows and the evidence of that was gone within a matter of just a couple days.
So, to think that it is March and we've not yet really had to deal with 'winter', it is hard to grasp hold of the idea that Spring is on it's way in just 3 weeks (by the calendar, that is)! 
And March brings my Dad's birthday, which is now the anniversary of the day I had to say good-bye to the sweetest cat ever to be a part of my life, which also happens to be St. Patrick's Day...just a good day to drink, for whatever reason, around here.  And, my birthday, which usually ends up being me wanting an excuse to have cocktails and cake.  This year, though, I'm taking time alone.  What better day to 'recharge' than one's own birthday!?
March also happens to be time for Moxie's annual exam and vaccines.  Last year, she got 3-year boosters, though, so she wasn't due for shots.  But, of course, there's always something!  She's had a little bump on her eyelid, that wasn't worrying me, but it started to get bigger and formed a scab, and i figured I'd have it looked at.  Especially since she also, clearly, had another raging ear infection!  The eye thing is a cyst.  They are often benign and only really need to be removed if they start scratching the eyeball.  Dr. Dan stained it to make sure there wasn't any scratching, which there wasn't, but she has a little conjuctivitis from it.  Her ears?  Well, one was fine, but the other (the one that always gets infected) was severely infected again.  So, now, our little beauty is getting joint supplements AND eye meds in the morning; and, eye AND ear meds AND her joint PILL in the evening; and, I have to flush her ear every other day!  For two weeks.  But for the love she gives us...totally worth it. 
We're off to see another band of friends tomorrow night.  This one is made up of a few friends who are all in other bands as well.  I have been getting up at 3 a.m. for work lately, but since the band is playing at a sports bar just about a mile from our house, I can't not go for a quick listen.  Then Saturday we have a dinner party for our friends' engagement.  So much for giving up socializing!
Today, I am relaxing.  Kicking back with the dog and listening to the rain, while wrapped up with a blanket and a hot cup of coffee (a bottomless cup, of course).