Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not-So-Massive Update

Neither of us has posted in a while, even though there've been several times I coulda-shoulda-woulda, and just didn't. And now I'm trying to think what some of those times were (I was going to make a fun little bullet-pointed post) and can't, so . . . so much for that.

The thing that brings me here right now is, of course, procrastination. We've been here for pushing two months. That first week or so, man, we were so productive . . . and then we fell into that "comfortable" stage. That place where, we have things mostly set up, and mostly unpacked, but we were settled in enough to go on with our day-to-day living. So we took a break . . . and just never went back to it. There's still piles of boxes, and some areas that are only half-done. Basically it still looks like we just moved in two weeks ago, rather than two months. Except that, we have the "lived-in" clutter as well. Mail and receipts and other random stuff lying around.

Well, long story short, we have a guest coming in on Friday, so I have until then to make the place look presentable. There's some stuff that is just not going to happen. For example, there's a corner of our living room that is filled with boxes of Christmas decorations, including a tree. That's the area where we plan to set up the tree, but it's still a little early for that (at least for us), so for now it's a storage corner. I'm fine with that. In fact, I'd settle for either getting rid of boxes, or getting rid of the clutter. Because it's not all going to happen in two days. But I just have this feeling that once our friend comes and goes, I'm going to fall back into my state of apathy, until the next time we have people coming to visit. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going.

Something that may (or may not) help, is the fact that Pat may (or may not) be going out of town Saturday night. (Another long story.) Regardless of whether he goes or not, the productivity level could still go either way. A big, big part of why so much has been left undone thus far is that I work much better when I'm by myself. But a lot of what is still left is stuff that's either his, or at least that I need his input on. Which sounds like an excuse -- believe me, I know it is -- but it still makes it frustrating when I get going on something and can only go so far because I don't know what to do with X, Y, and Z. I'm trying to get better about going ahead and making decisions. I really should be able to set up the entire apartment aside from his side of the computer room, since that's the only spot that's really "his," just like my side is the only spot that's really "mine." Everywhere else is this mucked up grey area where I don't want to set up everything my way because maybe he has other ideas, but at the same time, especially since I'm not working yet (another long story), I feel like I should be doing as much of the around-the-apartment stuff as I can be.

You'd think I would have gotten past all this. We've been married three and a half years now, and been living together for over four. We've moved three times since our first apartment (four, if you include our short stay at my parents', but that's a completely different living situation). So you would think that all our stuff would be integrated, and everything would just be "ours" by now.


Guess this turned into a massive update after all. Or at least a massive rambling session.

Oh well. Back to work.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Warcraft Updates

It's been a while, but I thought I'd post an update today on what I've been up to in Warcraft. With Cataclysm marching ever closer, I've been focusing on finishing up some Wrath specific goals.

On Blusummers, my big goal was to get the Salty title from fishing. Well, a couple of weeks ago I managed to fish up my last gold coin from the Dalaran fountain and was rewarded with a neat coin to flip as well as a title that showed that I had devoted waaay too much time to fishing. I also received a nice little bonus yesterday when the headless horseman decided to give me his mount. I was playing around with it a bit and I must say, it's very strange flying through the air on a mount that doesn't flap.

Squirrelz only has one real goal by the end of Wrath and that is to finish leveling fishing. I'm not going for "Salty" on him. I have decided that I definitely want to tank with him in Cataclysm. I learned to tank in BC before Swipe was even remotely what it was in Wrath so I look forward to the challenge of multi-mob tanking again. I do have to say though, I already miss swipe as a soloing tool. Rounding up a group of 15 quest mobs and swiping them all down with unlimited rage was a lot of fun, but I agree with Blizzard that it was a needed fix because tanking in Wrath heroics was pretty much a joke as long as you had the gear to stay ahead of the insane output of ICC raid-geared DPSers. The thing I'm still up in the air about on Squirrelz is what I want to do to level him. He's almost always been Feral. Feral DPS and Bear Tank. When Wrath came out, I thought about leveling him balance just to see what it was didn't go well. No offense to all you long time Boomkins out there, but compared to my frost mage, the balance druid just felt "clunky". I really don't know how else to describe it. The rotation just felt awkward to me. Well, ever since patch 4.0.1 hit, I've been dabbling in PvP with most of my characters. I don't have very good gear on Squirrelz, but I love the changes to both Feral and Moonkin for PvP. I started with feral, of course, and even though I wasn't able to kill much with all the resilience I was going up against, I found that I had the ability to very effectively shut down any non-druid healer. Talented Skull Bash + Maim = Win.

Well, I had seen quite a few boomkin rather effectively blowing stuff up in the battlegrounds and since Charleen plays one, I knew about the changes to them with their new eclipse mastery stuff and it seemed interesting. I farmed up some leather for the crafted PvP gear, spent a few champion seals for a weapon, put a spec together, and dove into the battlegrounds headfirst. It was awesome. Again, I'm not destroying anyone in great gear, but it's a lot of fun. Instant roots, Moonfire, insect swarm, sometimes instant Starsurge, and Starfall. I'm now debating if I want to level as boomkin or if I want to level Feral. The new casting system suits me a lot more and with instant roots and typhoon, I feel like I have a lot more control than just blast at it and hope it dies before you do. Both specs are a lot of fun, but I think I'm still leaning towards leveling primarily feral to get a better base of gear to dive into tanking at 85 and just letting Honor and some quest gear fill out a Boomkin set for PvPing.

Speaking of PvP, Charleen and I once started a warrior/priest leveling pair on the horde that we had intended to level up and do some pvp with. I always wanted to level a warrior, but hated the extra down time, and it was a great way for us to play together aside from the occasional group daily quest or guild-run dungeon. We had a lot of fun doing it and it was quite funny to duo some of the older dungeons...especially when the mobs were several levels higher than we were and it took forever to take a group down while dealing with a high miss rate. Anyway, with the "new" heirloom gear, we decided that we were going to give a warrior-healer pair another try. Meet the temporary Steelblu.

I decided that I would probably make a Worgen warrior for our leveling pair, but I wanted to make sure to reserve a name ahead of time. I was feeling a bit obnoxious and creative when saving the name so a pink-haired gnome female it was. I got all the champion's seals that I needed on Blusummers and Squirrelz to buy all the heirloom gear available for her and we started leveling a bit. She's level 17 now and having a blast in PvP. Even though I don't have a speed enchant on my boots, or hamstring yet, I love charging in and beating horde players silly. I can't wait 'till I get hamstring and intercept and get the talent where I can charge in combat. I ran like 4 or 5 WSGs last night while Char was working on some other things. I can't wait to combine that with pairing up with a healer to watch each others backs. Is Deathwing ready to come out and play yet?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Missed My Kitchen

So some other bloggers that I read have shared some of their favorite dishes. Well, I made a favorite soup of ours today and thought I would share my contribution to the culinary world. To be fair, it's not really my contribution. It originally comes from an awesome cookbook called Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen! But we've tweaked it a little bit to suit our tastes.

First, the recipe. I'll reserve my comments (and they are plentiful) for after.


Cheddar Potato Soup
Serves 4-6
~ 45 min

1 onion
3 potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups cold water
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Peel, quarter, and thinly slice the onion. Peel the potatoes, and cut them into 1/2-inch cubes.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook a few minutes to soften. Add the flour and stir constantly until absorbed. Add the water and bouillon cubes, and turn heat to high.

Once the soup has reached a boil, add the potato pieces to the pot. Wait for the soup to return to a boil, then turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Turn the heat off and, using the back of the spoon, mash the potatoes into the broth. Add the cheddar cheese and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until melted. Season with pepper and garlic salt, and serve.


Okay. First of all, I say it serves 4-6. More accurately, it's enough for 4-6 bowls, depending on how big. But when we're eating it as a meal by itself, it's pretty much enough for the two of us to each have two good-sized portions. It's also good leftover. However, if I know that I'm going to be making the soup for primarily leftover use, I use half as much flour. The reason is that the soup thickens up a lot sitting in the refrigerator, and making it this way it's almost too thick for my liking leftover. If I cut the flour in half, it's not quite as creamy the first time around, but comes out a lot better when I reheat it later.

Notes on the other ingredients. As far as potatoes, I use regular baking potatoes, not the small red kind or any other variety. Also, we're talking good-sized potatoes. I actually used 4 today because the bag we bought was full of rather smaller potatoes than I'm used to. Also, while I've never seen vegetarian bouillon cubes in the store, I've been told they exist. So, if you happen to be vegetarian, you don't have to miss out on this cheddary-potatoey goodness.

The seasonings are of course negotiable. I settled on this amount after a little bit of experimenting, but your tastes may vary. The original recipe doesn't even call for anything other than pepper, but we decided we wanted a little something extra.

When it comes time to mash the potatoes into the broth, I cheat and use a potato masher instead of the spoon. Personally I like it that way, making a creamier soup but with fewer actual chunks in it. Feel free to experiment with varying levels of chunky.

Also, I use a block of cheese, and shred it myself while the soup is bubbling away. The couple times I've used the pre-shredded kind, the soup seemed to have a kind of film to it once I melted the cheese in, from all that extra processing, I guess. Which is unfortunate, because pre-shredded is of course more convenient. But we actually just bought an awesome cheese grater (our old one was cheap and plastic and cracked pretty quickly) that fits on top of a little measuring container, making this step super easy.

So, anyway, this is one of the recipes that I used to make fairly often in our old apartment, and plan to make fairly often again in this one. I really have missed cooking, much as I never thought I'd say that. Perhaps I'll share more recipes in the future. I always enjoy reading about other people's favorite recipes, and though I've never actually attempted any, I've been meaning for a while to try TJ's Deeleeshoos Noodles. (And maybe next time I'll even have pretty pictures to illustrate my recipe like TJ . . . but I wouldn't count on it.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Books and More Books

Pat and I finally got over to the public library today to get our library cards here in Dubuque (much more of a big deal for me than for him). I've been busy with other things so I haven't had much time to read anyway, but it's been kind of frustrating being stuck with only the books I own. Because really, as much as I love reading, I don't have a very extensive library myself. It's grown a bit since I started working at Borders, but not by much.

Speaking of Borders, I had an interview at the Dubuque store yesterday. It went pretty well. She didn't say, "You're hired," but I'll be very surprised if it doesn't work out, especially with the holidays fast approaching. I should hear back by the end of next week, after she has a chance to talk to my manager from the Oak Brook store.

Back to the library, though. I got my card, and checked out my allotted three books. Yes, three. I used to check books out 10 at a time back in Westmont. But here, until my 90-day probationary period is up, I'm limited to three at a time. Which shouldn't really be a huge problem -- after all, I'm only reading one at a time -- it's just going to be a lot more back and forth than I had to do before.

I'm just glad to get back to reading new things again, rather than books I've already read and re-read several times. Not that there's anything wrong with those books, it's just a little tiring when that's my only option.

Final note: the library is 3.6 miles from my apartment. Any walking trips there in my future? I guess we'll see. With the weather getting cooler, I may try it at least once.

Monday, September 27, 2010


That's right folks, it's football season again! Well, actually it's week 3 of the season, but this is the first week that I get to wear my new Johnny Knox Bears jersey. It was a birthday present from Charleen and though I had it in time for last week's game, I didn't think it was the best thing to wear while moving. Anyway, it's a great jersey. One, it's Orange which is always a plus. Two, it's got the number 13 on it. Again, always a plus. And three, Knox is only in his second year as an NFL player, but he's ridiculously fast and fun to watch. I can't wait to see just how good he gets.

Anyway, things are going well. The apt is looking fantastic (thanks mostly to Charleen). The kitchen, living room, and bedroom are all set up. All that's left is a big pile of boxes in the spare room, but it's livable and it feels like a home. It's great to have a real home again.

Well, before I run the risk of this actually becoming a full length blog post, I'm off to get ready for the game.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Since I Was Asked Today . . .

We got the kitchen organized. It's not perfect, and I will possibly be tweaking things as I spend more time in there, but it will do for now.

More pictures of the apartment coming as we get the other rooms settled.

(And I've just bumped Pat off the front page again.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Kitchen Is NOT for Short People

First off, congratulations to me for finding the cord to connect my camera to my computer semi-quickly.

Excuse the mess. Our new kitchen is quite spacious compared to what we've had in the past, but I have discovered that it is not exactly up to code for accessibility by the vertically challenged.

As you can see, we have a dishwasher, and the typical stove/oven combination. To the left of that is the refrigerator. All on one wall. The area where I'm standing to take the picture is the dining area, so while there's plenty of space, what you see is pretty much it as far as cabinets. We have under-the-sink cabinets (reserved for cleaning supplies, garbage bags, and the like), and a column of drawers (for silverware, cooking utensils, random gadgets, etc). No other lower storage.

And, if you'll notice, when it comes to the upper cabinets, there is ONE set that extends low enough to the point where I don't need a step-stool to access it. And not only that, but it BARELY extends that low. I can't even reach the second shelf comfortably. So basically, I'm thinking the bottom shelf of that cabinet is going to have to hold just a little bit of everything -- a few plates, bowls, and glasses, and anything else that will fit -- while everything else remains out of reach. We have a step-stool, of course; being only 5'3", I'm well-acquainted with it. I'm just not used to having to pull it out any time I want a glass of juice or bowl of cereal. Also, with the lack of lower-cabinet space, we may have to end up storing our pots and pans right on the stove, and just shove them in a closet somewhere if we ever need the kitchen to look nice for whatever reason.

Blargh. I'm just frustrated because I told Pat I should have the kitchen set up by the time he got home from work today, and the more boxes I open and the more things I try to put away, the more I realize that I just have NO clue how to cope with this particular kitchen's quirks.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

5 Days . . .

Two posts in two days; guess I'm in a very bloggy mood this week.

So there's five days left until the official move to Iowa. Packing is coming along slowly but surely. Mostly it's just hard to group things together because my entire room here pretty much just consists of things that we didn't want to be without for months at a time (since the majority of our belongings are in a storage locker at the other end of town), so once you get past the obvious groupings of "clothes" and "books" and "music/movies" it's pretty much just complete randomness. Not to mention, a good chunk of it can't be packed up until this weekend anyway 'cause I'm still using it.

But, because most of our stuff is, as I said, already packed away in storage, this will definitely be the easiest move we've ever done, aside from possibly the time I moved from one apartment into an identical apartment down the hall, midway through my last year of college.


Things I'm looking forward to:

~ living with my husband again (what a crazy concept)
~ living with my cat again (!!!)
~ having my own kitchen again
~ having more than just one cramped room to call my own
~ not sharing a bathroom with a woman who spends an hour getting ready in the morning, and that's AFTER she gets out of the shower
~ not juggling two cars among four people (and, going along with this, not having to feel like I'm asking permission if I need a car for something other than work)
~ the excitement of getting to know a new city (and state! - I've never not lived in Illinois, it's going to be bizarre)

Things I'll miss:

~ having the bed to myself
~ hanging out with my brother (seriously, 10 years ago I would NOT have believed you if you told me this would be the case)
~ being close to family and friends

So, yeah, I'd say the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

EDIT: Just thought of another thing to look forward to -- not spending so much time on the phone! It wouldn't be as bad if I had a hands-free device that didn't hurt my ear to wear. Being better at multitasking would also help. But really, I'm just not a phone person.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Power and Beauty of Art

So, this is something that's been on my mind for a while; unfortunately, it's really hard to make a coherent blog post about it. But earlier today I was watching the last couple hours of VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and it just struck me full force how much amazing music is out there. It's just mind-boggling to think about, and a little heartbreaking to know how much of it I will never hear.

I feel the same way about books. About a month back I hit my goal of 75 new books for the year, so I do read a lot. In fact, I set a goal earlier this year of reading 300 books by the time I'm 30, and now -- with nearly three years and only 124 books to go -- it seems that could be laughably easy. (Though of course, now that I've said that, life may find a way to prove me wrong.) But every time I come across something new I want to read, I just feel the weight of all these stories pressing down on me, knowing that my to-read list is growing faster than I can keep up with it. And now I'm feeling it again with music, only it's worse with music, because music is my life.

For those who may be unaware, I graduated with a BA in music. My plan was (is?) to go back to graduate school for a masters and doctorate in musicology and find a teaching job at a university. (I've recently started entertaining the notion of doing Library Science instead, but that's another story . . .)

Anyway, point being, I love music. It has always been a huge part of my life. I can't even tell you how much I miss being in a choir. And there are some pieces that give me chills every time I listen to them (the final movement of Verdi's Requiem being one of my absolute favorites). And I still feel so woefully ignorant, like I could spend my life studying and still only scratch the surface of what the great composers have to offer. And then there's the whole non-classical world. I was watching the VH1 special for two hours, saw snippets from the top 40 artists of all time, and it was like . . . wow, I really am missing out.

It's just kind of mind-blowing, how art can affect us. Whether it's music, literature, visual art, some combination of the above . . . it really is incredible. And unfortunately that doesn't even come close to describing what I feel about it, but that's really all I can say.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Today was my last day at Borders. I told them I could work through next Thursday, but when my manager was making up the schedule I guess she and another manager had just been discussing my leaving, and so she made up the schedule thinking that I wasn't going to be there . . . and then realized that I was. But, whatever. My paycheck isn't so significant that a week off is going to seriously hurt me (especially lately I've been working only about 15 hours, if that) and it will make next week much less stressful. I haven't even really started packing yet, so there's all that to do. I made one last hair appointment (didn't know if I'd be able to squeeze that in before I left). And I can read a couple more books guilt-free that they don't have at the Dubuque library (yes, I've already been looking into that as I add books to my to-read list).

I really am going to miss this job. There were a couple customers today that made me question that (there are always a couple) but really this is one of the best jobs I've had, mostly because of my coworkers. I'm hoping to transfer to the Dubuque store, but I honestly don't know if it will be the same. It's hard to imagine working in a store where everything is the same except the people. My managers are all awesome. Pretty much everyone is great to work with.

So, yeah. Even though I'm looking forward to moving, and even a little relieved to be done with work earlier than expected, I am going to miss it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Yeah, so I'm lazy...

Ok, so I've been a bit lazy. I meant to write a post when I got my new disc golf disc that is awesome...and I didn't. I meant to write a post after I had my 3-month review at work that went well...and I didn't. I meant to write a post after I had looked at an appartment...and I didn't. So yeah, we've established the fact that I'm lazy. It doesn't help that I only have good internet access 'till about 5:30 PM when everyone else gets back to the motel and eats up all the bandwidth, but mostly I'm just lazy. :)

Anyway, as Charleen mentioned we have an official move date! In just over a week I get to move out of the motel and into an apt with my wife and my cat. Honestly if I had to pick, I'd have a hard time deciding what I was more excited about: Getting to move back in with my wife and seeing her more than every other weekend, not having to drive back to Chicago every other weekend, getting the cat back from my parents, sleeping in my own bed, or not having to eat fast food almost every stinking night. The fast food one is a very strong competitor. Thankfully, I don't have to pick one. I get them all!!! 10 days away and it can't get here fast enough.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Not All the Attention It Deserves

So, I don't have the energy to explain all the updates of the past week or so (actually I'm surprised Pat hasn't posted) but . . . we are officially moving to Iowa. Or rather, I'm moving to Iowa, and Pat's moving out of the hotel he's been in for the past three months out there.

I should be relieved that everything is coming together. And I am. But it's still weighing down on me, and I suspect I won't fully feel myself again till it's all over. Just over two weeks till that happens.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Random Literary Tidbits

I recently hit my goal of reading 75 books this year, and it's only August! Also, I'm up over 150 total books read. Here's some random things I've noticed about my tastes compared with the general reading public . . . or at least, the average GoodReads member.

Here are the general descriptions of the ratings, as provided by GR. I try to stick to these as close as possible, especially when I'm undecided (sadly, GR doesn't offer half-stars). I just try to take a step back and ask myself which of these statements is most accurate.

1 star = didn't like it
2 stars = it was ok
3 stars = liked it
4 stars = really liked it
5 stars = it was amazing

* Keeping in mind that the "average rating" of a book is constantly changing, these numbers are accurate as of today.

Lowest rated book in my collection: Lost, by Gregory Maguire, at 2.60 stars (my rating = 4 stars)
I'm really not surprised that this book is rated as low as it is. Gregory Maguire (of Wicked fame) is sort of a "love him or hate him" author anyway, and Lost is very different from his other works, so even many fans don't care for it.

Highest rated book in my collection: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, at 4.48 stars (my rating = 4 stars)
This one IS surprising to me. Not because it wasn't a good book, but just because it was SO hyped up, and SO many people have read it, that I would have expected a more balanced reaction.

Most of the top-rated books are ones in a series, and I think these tend to be higher rated overall because the earlier books weed out a lot of people who would give negative reviews. If you read the first book in a series and don't care for it, you probably aren't going to continue. Sure, some later books get low ratings too, by people who stuck out the series just because, or fans who were disappointed by a particular volume, but overall there are less negative reviews to bring down the average. So, it just surprises me that The Help, which was read by such a wide variety of people, didn't get more negative reviews to pull that average down a bit. Again, it's not that it was a bad book. I'm just surprised that it's rated higher than the final Percy Jackson (4.46), the final Harry Potter (4.45), and the final Lord of the Rings (4.40), all of which were read mostly by people who were already inclined to enjoy the book. (On a personal note I'm surprised that PJ squeaked out above HP, but that's just me.) But, of course, these numbers are all so close, and always subject to change, so it's not really worth squabbling over those few hundredths of a star.

Of my 5-star books:
Most popular: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling, at 4.45 stars
Least popular: Judgement Day, by Jane Jensen, at 3.56 stars

Of my 1-star books:
Most popular: Tell No One, by Harlan Coben, at 3.99 stars
Least popular: The Last Theorem, by Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl, at 3.02 stars

There are also several instances where my favorite book in a collection (whether grouped by series or just by author) is the least popular, and/or my least favorite is the most popular. Just further proof that no one but you can decide what you like or don't like.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Well, I'm Not Pregnant

So, a couple weeks ago TJ blogged about the fact that, if you're a woman, and your stomach's upset, inevitably someone will ask if you're pregnant. Even if no one asks, it doesn't mean they're not thinking and wondering. I've been getting sick at work quite a bit recently, and though no one has said anything, I'm just living with the assumption that at least a couple people are asking themselves if I'm pregnant. Or possibly bulimic.

Anyway, these waves of nausea have been coming on and off for a while now, maybe once a week or so. Sometimes I actually get sick, sometimes it's just a persistent unpleasantness. I've been assuming it's related to stress (the whole long-distance, future-up-in-the-air thing) and just doing my best to deal with it. The past few days, though, I've been feeling worse than usual.

So today -- after waking up, throwing up twice over the course of an hour and a half, and calling in sick to work -- I finally decided to take advantage of the fact that we have insurance again and see a doctor. To see if they can do anything about the nausea itself, but also to make sure there's not some serious problem I've been ignoring for the past few months.

So, I looked on our insurance website and found a walk-in clinic just down the road that has Sunday hours. They ran a bunch of basic tests and everything turned up normal, but there's still a couple that won't be done till tomorrow, and they suggested I get a follow-up with my regular doctor (which I don't have, so they gave me someone to call) in the next day or two. So we'll see what happens. I'm guessing they won't find anything. But hopefully the prescription they gave me will help the symptoms, at least, because I'm really sick (sorry, unavoidable pun) of this feeling.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

At the Bar

A couple of our good friends got married this weekend. The wedding was beautiful (as was the bride), and the reception was so much fun. Plus, of course, open bar.

I don't drink a lot. And when I do, it's usually at home with friends rather than out at a bar. So, I'm pretty clueless when it comes to bar drinks. I told the bartender I wanted something fruity, and she recommended Sex on the Beach. (insert joke here) Later in the night I tried a Long Beach Iced Tea, recommended by one of our friends, which is basically a Long Island Iced Tea but with a splash of cranberry juice instead of cola. Both drinks were pretty good.

So the last couple days I've been browsing online to try and find different drinks that I can try the next time I have the occasion to. Trouble is, on a site like, there's SO MUCH on there. And, since I'm not a drinker, none of it sounds familiar to me. I have no real way of knowing what are standard drinks, what are local drinks, and what some college kid just made up on his own. In our age of information dissemination, I wonder how common it is for someone to order a drink, and the bartender not know what it is. And, common or no, I wouldn't want to be caught in that situation.

I did find a list of Popular Drinks Every Bartender Should Know, so I suppose I'd probably be safe ordering any of these. And honestly I think it would be really fun to have a well-stocked liquor cabinet and try out different mixes on my own -- in moderation, of course. But that could get to be a rather pricey hobby, I'm sure.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lots O' Books

I added another new tab.

One of the things I've been doing with my excessive time alone is reading. It's really nice, one of those "silver lining" things, and I'm trying to take as much advantage of it as I can. I am going to completely destroy my goal of reading 75 books this year (mentioned way back here). Technically I've already hit that benchmark, if you count things I've re-read. But even counting new books only, I'll probably hit it by the end of next month.

So, at any rate, I've added a new "bookshelf" tab, with a link to my GR profile, as well as visual representation of my favorites, with links to my reviews. I don't write a review for every book I read, but I always make sure to write them for 1-star and 5-star books. I figure if I'm going to give something that extreme of a rating, whether it's good or bad, I should say why I'm doing it.

Anyway, I don't know how else I might dress up this new blog page in the future. I know it seems kind of unnecessary, when all of the information is available through GR. But, it's just something else I can share to make the blog a little more personal.

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Design

So, I know we've got a total of like 3 readers, and most people probably use a feed reader anyway, but I re-did the blog layout. I really like it. AND, Blogger has added a pages feature since the last time I played around with things here, so I added an "About Us" tab (though there's nothing there yet) and will probably be going tab-happy in the future as I figure out new things I can use it for.

In other news . . . yeah, nothing's been going on really. Hence the lack of posts. Ever since Pat left for Iowa, it feels like my life has been on hiatus. Which is really an amusing thought considering I've felt that way to some extent ever since I left college. It feels like I'm always waiting for something. Waiting to get married. Waiting till we move. Waiting till we can start a family. Waiting to go back to school. And, in the mean time, four more years of my life have gone by. When did that happen?

This is something different, though. I know a big part of it is because Pat's gone. Part of it is this weird dynamic of living with my family again as an adult (I think not having my own car is making it weirder than it might otherwise be). Part of it is that, rather than looking forward to some vague future milestone, I'm waiting for a very specific thing, knowing that it will be soon, but not knowing exactly when it's going to happen. It's just . . . weird. Days go by and I don't really notice, but instead of feeling anxious because time is slipping away from me, I just feel like these days don't really count anyway. It's not a great attitude, I know.

I didn't mean for this to be so much of a downer, but I guess I just needed to get it out.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Overwhelmed Too

Nine days ago, I was still an out of work engineer.
Yesterday was my last day working at Brookfield Zoo.
Today, I'm in Dubuque, IA.

So yeah, it was a hectic week getting ready to start working out in Dubuque. My last week at the zoo went pretty well. My managers knew that I had a lot of stuff to get done so they let me go as early as possible on most days. Friday went by pretty quickly and at the end of it, I got to go to an employee only sneak peek at the sting rays. That was pretty cool. Overall my job at the zoo was pretty good. There were some things that were lousy about it, such as dealing with cranky people that thought they were more important than every other guest at the zoo, but I liked most of the people that I worked with. It was also nice to work outside on beautiful days. Overall, I'll miss working there, but I'm excited to be back working in my field. It's been a crazy week, and it's strange to be checking into a motel room and knowing that I'll be staying for a month, but now that I'm here, I'm looking forward to things slowing down a bit. Of course when starting at a new job, things usually aren't slow, but at least the moving is over...for now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010



As Pat mentioned in his last entry, he was offered a job in Iowa. He starts on Monday. It's a bit overwhelming to have everything change in a span of a week. Not like we haven't been planning for this for a while now. I don't remember when exactly Pat started looking into options outside of the Chicago area, but ever since then we've known this could happen. Been hoping for it. But now that it has, it's just . . . well, I think overwhelming is the best word to describe it.

I mean, it's only Iowa. More than that, it's only Dubuque, which is right on the border between Iowa and Illinois. Right about 3 hours, according to Google. And I've put in a request to work to not work weekends anymore, so that I can actually spend those with my husband when he's home. Honestly, it's not the long distance thing that's got me worked up. Yeah, that part of it sucks, but it's nothing we haven't done before. It's just worrying over all the details. Me being without a car once he's gone. Trying to figure out when exactly I'll join him out there. And the prospect of starting the job hunt all over again . . . sucks. Ideally I could see about transferring to a Borders out there, but "ideally" hasn't worked out for us so well in the past.

I'm trying to keep my mind busy with other things and not think about any of this. Clearly, that's not going so well.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I can has job!

After a waaaaaay too long dry spell, I was offered an engineering position this morning. The picture above is pretty much how I felt all day. That's right. After living with the in-laws for exactly 4 weeks, I will be moving out to Dubuque, IA. I will probably be living in a hotel for the first month and then move to an apt after I get the lay of the land over there with Charleen following me out there a few months later. We'll see how things go. A lot is still up in the air, but for now I'm just tremendously relieved to finally have a job in my field. I'm looking forward to getting our lives back on track.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


So I know that being out in the rain isn't actually supposed to make you catch a cold, but it sure did seem that way this week.

First things first: we did move successfully. We couldn't get quite as much into the storage unit as we wanted, but we got more in there than we'd hoped, leaving not too much to be stored either in closets or attics until we're back in our own place. And the bedroom is definitely "extra-cozy" with Pat and I tripping over each other when we're both in here, but hey, you do what you have to do.

The one thing that didn't go smoothly with the move was the weather. Both Saturday and Sunday were rainy, crappy days, so of course starting on Monday I've been feeling sick all week. Cough, sore throat, congestion (and that fuzzy sense of hearing that comes with congestion). I was sneezing as well, though the upside is that I was able to get rid of that by taking Claritin. All other symptoms, however, are going strong, to the point that I called in to work today and, after falling back asleep, slept until noon. My mom has pretty much the same symptoms, which she's blaming on the drinking game we all played on Friday ( . . . long story), as drinking tends to lower her immune system, which of course is what being out in the rain actually did to me. So whether she gave something to me or I gave something to her, who knows. But basically it sucks. Pat's mom is worrying that I have bronchitis, but I'm hoping that after giving myself today to rest (something I haven't had the luxury of doing yet this week), that I'll feel better.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Well, the weekend is upon us, and . . . yeah. Our place sort of looks like we're moving soon, but definitely doesn't look like we're moving tomorrow. I suppose I should go and remedy that rather than sitting here typing a blog entry, but it's just so overwhelming. And there are a lot of factors making this move more difficult than times we've moved in the past, the biggest thing being that everything is being split up into two locations. The majority of our stuff is going into storage, while certain key items are coming to my parents' with us. Unfortunately, the stuff that is easiest to pack is the stuff that's coming with, and everything else is just . . . there. Personally I'm ready to just drag a dumpster under our window and toss all of it, but I think that would be frowned upon by a certain significant other.

I'm just so frustrated, and ready for all this to be over.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Slumber Party!

Okay, so Pat was recently reminiscing about high school (sort of), so of course about a week after that, I go to an old school slumber party. Well, old-school aside from the fact that we had alcohol and half of us were married. But whatever.

It was a ton of fun. Would have been even more fun had I actually been able to spend the night, but since I was working the next day I decided I'd rather go home and sleep in my own bed. It's times like these I really wish I had a normal M-F schedule like everyone else. As it was, I couldn't even have one drink (because, regardless of the fact that one drink barely makes me tipsy, it WILL give me a mini-hangover the next day, which really sucks . . . not that I'm the kind of person who needs alcohol to have fun, but it would still be nice not to worry about it).

Lynsey actually brought out the game "Girl Talk," which I don't think I ever actually played back in the day, and which I still haven't played because we decided it was just too pointless for a group of 25+ women to play what is basically Truth or Dare (and all of the dares sounded pretty dumb anyway, even if we were the appropriate age). So we ended up playing some other games, my favorite of which was definitely what we've dubbed "Pictionaphone," or the alternate title, "Telephonary." I'm still not sure which I like best, but it was a fun game. As the names suggest, it's basically a combination of Pictionary and the Telephone game that kids play.

Everyone gets a small stack of scratch paper, as many pieces as there are people. Everyone writes down a name of a movie (well, we chose to go with movies, you could also do songs, TV shows, whatever, but movies works really well), then passes their stack of paper to the right. Next person looks at the name, and puts that paper in the back of the stack. Then on the next clear piece of paper they draw out a representation of the movie that was listed. Pass to the right again. That person looks at the picture, sticks it in back of the stack, and on the next clear paper writes what they think the drawing represents (without going back and looking at the original movie title). So, it may or may not be correct, but then the next person gets to draw their version of that title, and so on and so forth until everyone's stack makes it back around to them. Sometimes the original movie remains constant till the end, and sometimes . . . not so much. But it was really fun.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

WoW is like High School

Two posts within a month of each other...I hope I don't break the internet. Also a quick note for anyone who may be reading this that doesn't already know. When I say "WoW" it is short for World of Warcraft. I know Charleen has linked to this blog from her facebook page, but I have no idea if anyone has actually followed that link here.

Anyway, let me explain about the title of the post. I loved High School. It didn't require a lot of responsibility on my part, it was fun, and I had a lot of great friends. WoW was much the same for me, and lately I've been missing it. I apologize for the random rambling that this post will likely have. Charleen is the writer, not me.

Especially right now, that lack of responsibility part is something I miss. Charleen and I are 26. We (or at least I am) are still in that phase where High School and College don't feel like they happened all that long ago and real life and responsibility suck. The current economy isn't helping that last part. While I really look forward to owning a house and working on projects and the yard on my free time, right now real life responsibility is pretty sucky. As Charleen mentioned, we're going to be moving in with her parents. Since currently I'm supposed to be the primary bread winner, the feeling of failure is weighing down on me pretty hard. (ok, I could go on, but I'm cutting this rant off right now) Back to what I was originally talking about. WoW was nice. You didn't have any more responsibility than you decided to take on. The biggest responsibility that you really should have in WoW personal courtesy. If you start an instance run, make sure that you have the time to do so with the exception of stuff that comes up out of the blue. High school was pretty much the same. There was homework of course, but the only extra responsibility that you had was extra curricular activities that you decided to take on.

Kind of going along with the responsibility thing is just how much fun WoW was for me. Right now I could really use that kind of escape. I loved running instances or doing quests. Heck, even fishing grew on me. (and that was before they made all the big changes to it) But I think the biggest fun aspect for me was the fact that you could make yourself goals and always be working towards something (also one of Blizzard's biggest hooks for a subscription based game). I loved the long term project of it. As far as console games go, RPGs like Final Fantasy or Zelda have always been my favorite, but as much fun as they are, there's always that part of me that was sad when a great game came to an end. WoW didn't have that downside. Right now I'm getting my game fix with a couple of facebook games and by replaying some console games that I have, but they'll never be as complete a game as WoW.

Finally the thing I miss the most about WoW (and high school) is talking almost every day to those great friends that I made. I'm terrible at keeping in touch with people that I don't see every day. The original point of this blog was as a way to keep in touch and keep those friends up to date on what was going on in our lives. It's nice that some of them like Wulfa and Dammerung have a blog that they post on all the time. I especially love seeing pictures of their kids 'cause they're so darn cute. :) But reading about someone's life and talking with them about it is very different and I miss that. I miss hanging out online and just chatting with folks like Wulfa, Dammerung, Shrinn, Fal, and Ishvi to name just a few. I don't know, when I get back into an Engineering job again, I may start playing WoW again, but right now I just feel...I don't know if it's the right word or not but...nostalgic. (ok, just looked up the definition:a yearning for the past, often in idealized form. It's exactly the right word)

And since I was just taken away from my computer for a bit, my train of thought has been completely derailed. Something about feeling the same kind of nostalgia for WoW as I do for High School for a lot of the same reasons. At least I'm posting again, right? Lets see if I can aim for a second post inside of a week next time.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Moving Woes

So, we're moving in about a month. Which would be a traumatic enough experience on its own (because, no matter how many times I've done it, moving always is) but made even more traumatic by the fact that we're moving in with my parents.

Let me first say that we hope this move will be very temporary, and how grateful we are that my parents are willing to take us in. However . . . fitting an entire apartment worth of stuff into my old bedroom is simply not going to happen. So, in addition to the pain of moving, and the awkwardness of running home to Mom and Dad after three years of marriage, we have to figure out how the hell we're going to fit our entire lives into one 11x12 bedroom.

Clearly we will be renting a storage space for the majority of our furniture, everything in our kitchen and bathroom, and probably a good chunk of our personal belongings as well. It's that last part that's causing the most trouble though. When it comes to all our "stuff" . . . what do we pack away into storage, not to come out again until we are back in our own place? It's kind of like deciding what to bring to your dorm room your first year of college, only harder.

Right now I'm transferring a lot of the recipes I regularly use onto nice little 4x6 index cards, so that I can bring a stack of index cards rather than a stack of cookbooks. And honestly, I don't know how much cooking I'm going to be doing anyway, but I'd still rather not lose access to all that information. Unfortunately not everything in my life can be so easily condensed.

The most recent blow in this whole situation, though, is the definitive decision that Slider won't be coming with us. We'd been worrying this whole time about whether or not our cat and my parents' dog would get along, completely forgetting that my brother (who is also moving home after being on his own for a year) is allergic to cats. So, while we knew that Slider might not be able to join us, it ended up being for a completely different reason than we thought. Instead, Pat's parents will be taking him for the duration. They live just a couple blocks away, so it's not like I can't see him whenever. But it's still going to be hard.

This next month is going to be incredibly stressful.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Left Foot, Right Foot . . .

Okay, so Pat is all sad that he hasn't posted in over six months. I haven't been doing much better. But, as I mentioned to him, I could post a lot more often than I do. I'm always thinking, "Hey, I should put that in the blog," and then I just don't. So, we're both going to try to get better about that. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, last week I did something kind of stupid.

Important thing to know here, for those who don't actually know me: I'm overweight. Technically I am considered obese, but I don't like to think of myself as such since that brings to mind a certain visual image that I don't think I quite fall into, but vanity aside, yes, I am obese. I'm 5'3" and just over 200 lbs. I wear size 18 jeans. At my last doctor visit I was told that I'm actually in remarkably good health considering how overweight I am (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc are all fine) but then I'm still young. So, yes, I do plan to lose weight and get in shape, but like so many other things it just hasn't happened.

At any rate, now that the weather is turning nicer again, we've been going on walks whenever possible (though since I stand all day at Borders and come home pretty sore, we only go on my days off), I'm trying to control portions, drink water instead of sugary drinks . . . you know, baby steps. My mom also struggles with her weight, and recently she's been taking her days off (which is every other Friday) to visit my grandma and use her Wii Fit. About a month ago she invited me out there to join them.

The great thing about Wii Fit (I SO want one) is that it's a really easy way to track your progress. Before you start doing the exercises it measures your weight and BMI, compares it to last time, and you can set goals for yourself, for losing or gaining weight. So anyway, I go out there with her the first time, create my little Mii character, play some of the games, and set a 2-week goal for myself. Two Fridays later, I tag along again, and lo and behold I've lost 5.5 pounds over those two weeks! Sweet!

So, two more weeks go by, and unfortunately my work schedule has changed so that I'm working on Fridays now, so I can't go with again. This was last week. And now we finally get to the point of my story.

Thursday was an absolutely gorgeous day. And I was thinking about the fact that I wasn't going to get to work out this week (not that once every two weeks is really anything to fuss about, but I was still looking forward to it), and Pat was working, so I was just hanging around the apartment by myself. And I was thinking that I should get out and take a walk, just in case we didn't go for one that evening, and even if we did, two walks in one day wouldn't be a bad thing. But THEN, I came up with my stupid idea. Instead of just taking a quick walk around the neighborhood, I decided I was going to walk to the library. Which, according to Google Maps, is 2.6 miles from my place. 2.6 miles there. 2.6 miles back.

Back in high school I once walked from my house to the library, which is (again, according to Google) 2.2 miles. It felt like it took me forever, and if I recall correctly I ended up calling my parents for a ride home 'cause I just couldn't do it again. But that was before I went to college, and got used to walking all over the place all the time. Then again, college was three years ago.

Back and forth like that for about twenty minutes in my head before deciding to just suck it up and do it. It's really not that far, I decided, and it certainly wasn't going to kill me. Worst case scenario, if I was so much of a wimp that I couldn't walk home, I could just hang out at the library all day until Pat got off work and have him swing by to pick me up.

So I did walk all the way there. Took me just under an hour. Dropped off all my books, got a few new ones . . . sat around reading for about 45 minutes to recharge my legs . . . and then turned around and walked back. I was very surprised that it took the same amount of time to walk home. I was expecting to be huffing and puffing the whole way back, taking way longer now that I was so tired, but I guess my rest break did its work.

And honestly, I felt really really good. Tired, but really good. Until I woke up the next morning and my legs were KILLING me, and swore that I'd never voluntarily walk that far again. Well, now it's a gorgeous day again after a crummy weekend, and I'm actually thinking of making this a weekly trip. I go to the library about once a week anyway, why not get some exercise in? Pat tells me I should have stretched out before and I would have been fine. Fine may be an exaggeration, but I'm sure it would have helped, had I thought of it.

So anyway . . . we'll see. I'm not going to go today, and the forecast is actually calling for rain on Thursday (these are my only two days off this week) but we'll see what happens. If nothing else, I've taken back my vow of never doing it again.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bad Fires are Bad

Ok, so this blog was my idea. I suppose I should post on it every once in a while. (ok, I just checked and it's been over six months since I posted...I fail...) Anyway...

Oh right, the title of my post. I like fire. I think it's fascinating. I like "playing" with bonfires when hanging out with friends or especially when going camping. I like the smell of burnt matches. I always loved being the one to get to light the candles at dinner when I was growing up. Those are good fires. Fires where parts of buildings are burning, however, are bad fires...

So Saturday, February 27th was a fairly uneventful day. I don't think I worked. I got some cleaning done around the apt. Charleen worked. She got home from Borders at about 10:30. We went to bed early. Again, uneventful.

Sunday morning at about 12:30 AM, there's a loud bang as our front door is busted open by firemen. They barge in and start yelling to get out of the building because there's a fire. Charleen and I scrambled to put on some extra clothing and shoes. I looked around and couldn't find the cat and was told to leave him. (grrr...) Found out later that he had run back and hidden under the bed. he doesn't usually do that.

Anyway, the fire was in the apt across the hall and one door down from us. The sprinkler system in that unit went off and alerted the fire dept. and it was out within about 5-10 minutes of them arriving. That's where the 3 hour wait began. Looking back on it now with a fully rested and rational mind, it makes sense that they needed to be sure to take the time to check that there were no more hot spots or any possibility whatsoever of a fire starting back up. At that early in the morning on a half hour of sleep and worrying about our cat still up in our apt and possibly running loose? Not so reasonable. After a bit and things had calmed down I did manage to get one of the firemen to check on Slider and he let us know that he was hiding under the bed and they had closed the bedroom door so he wasn't going to run away. That helped, but the next few hours were long and there were lots of questions about the girl who lived in the apt with the fire. And then there were even more questions about her boyfriend.

Finally at about 3-3:30 we were let back in to our apt and told to grab enough stuff for the next 4-5 days. Luckily both my parents and Charleen's parents live within about 20 minutes so we had somewhere to stay on short notice without waiting for the complex to arrange for us to be put up in a hotel. Thankfully no one was hurt, nothing besides our apt door was damaged, and we were able to get back into the building in a couple of days. It also was nice to know that Slider is perfectly capable of adapting to my parent's house after being there a few days.

So yeah, that was our excitement for the end of last month. I promise to post more often than once every 7 months...(hangs head in shame).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two Months

Wow, my non-activity reaches a new record.

Let's see, updating on things talked about last time:

NaNoWriMo is obviously over by now. It was a lot of fun, and the first time I've ever been able to actually reach The End of a writing project! For that reason alone I may be taking advantage of the offer for winners ("winner" meaning writing 50K words or more) to get a free proof copy of my novel. To have something I wrote as an actual book would be incredibly cool, though I'm not sure if I can stand to put something so obviously imperfect into such a final form. The offer is good through June, so I have time to do some editing. Not sure if I'd be able to get it to the point where I'm satisfied, though. We'll see.

Still working at Borders. Despite feeling really burned out the week before Christmas, when I was scheduled 6 days in a row during the craziest time of year, it's been a lot of fun. Feels good to be getting out of the house and doing something worthwhile, and most everyone I work with is great. It's still up in the air whether or not they can keep me past seasonal help, but I should know that in the next week or two.

Aside from working, mostly what's been filling my time is reading. Working at a bookstore hasn't really affected that much; I have a feeling this is what I'd be doing with my time regardless. Almost a year ago I discovered the site which has really influenced my addiction. It was tough trying to remember everything I've read before so I could add it to my list -- of course, being a perfectionist, I couldn't stand the idea of it being incomplete -- and, even so, it's not quite accurate. But, accurate enough, according to the rules I gave myself. My list includes everything that I've read for pleasure, on my own, in my "adult" years. Books read for school are not included (I never actually read half of them anyway), and books I read as a child are not included (I'd never be able to remember them all). Whether I didn't have time, or school just beat the desire out of me, I really didn't read much -- if anything -- on my own from about the ages of 12 to 21, so picking up Wicked part-way through college seems as decent a starting point as I could hope to get. At any rate, I'm pretty sure I've remembered everything (all fiction anyway, I don't read enough non-fiction to fret over it), and gotten the dates roughly correct.

Obsessive compulsive tendencies taken care of, it was great to start keeping track of what I'm reading now . . . and trust me, I'm getting use out of it. I haven't read this much since I was a child, and it still seems that no matter how many books I read, my "to-read" list just keeps getting longer. To try to help that, I've joined a group on that site with the challenge to read 75 books in a year.

According to my GR bookshelf, I read 44 books in 2009. So it may seem that 75 is an overly ambitious goal, especially considering that I was unemployed for most of the year and hopefully that will not be the case this year. However, I also spent a lot of time re-reading books I'd already read before, plus the fact that I really didn't start getting into reading again until April. So it should be doable. At least, one book every 4 or 5 days is doable. Keeping up that pace for an entire year . . . that's where it gets tricky. Especially when I'd really prefer to only count new books for this challenge, and there are still quite a few I'd like to re-read as well (part of that perfectionist thing again, I hate the fact that I'm really just guessing on several of my 1- to 5-star ratings on this site). But we'll see. Whether I actually reach it or not, it's nice to have a goal.