Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Happy birthday Thad!

Today is our friend Thad's birthday.  But since its in the middle of the week, we celebrated it a few days early, over the weekend.

Spouse made chicken breasts stuffed with cream cheese and garlic, a roasted vegetable salad, and a mocha cake.
Its weird that the cake looks kinda pinkish in color.  It was actually brown!  Spouse made the icing with chocolate and coffee to get the yummy mocha flavor.

Derwin & Carolyn came too, along with Derwin's daughter Sydney and Carolyn & Derwin's daughter Quinn.  Thad is Quinn's godfather.
Since the weather was so nice we ate and spent the entire time on the screened porch.  I should have taken a picture of how nice it looked with the table clothes, coordinating dishes and glasses, and the beautiful red gladiolas Thad brought, but I didn't.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day

While summer doesn't technically end until Sept 22, many refer to Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer.  I can't believe its here already; the summer has passed so quickly.

We often have friends visit over Labor Day weekend but this year we didn't.  I was on the schedule to be in the office on both Sat & Sun so we decided not to invite anyone.  Today the office was closed for the holiday.

Spouse & I met Steven for breakfast at 10.  (Thad was at yoga.)  On our way home we stopped at the grocery store, then sat on the screened porch and enjoyed the nice weather.  I'd hoped to go to the beach but Spouse's back has been hurting a lot (spasms and shooting pain) so I didn't bug him to go.  Instead we relaxed on the porch with the dogs, looking at Facebook, online window shopping, and talking. It was actually nice not to have to 'labor' on Labor Day.

That evening we went to Steven & Thad's house for a 'Store bought BBQ'.  Typically Steven & Spouse would make the side salads homemade, but since this was a last minute decision, Steven simply bought the side salads at the grocery store and called it a 'Store bought BBQ'. The store bought salads were a perfectly fine accompaniment to the grilled burgers and hot dogs.  Nothing says American holiday like grilled food!  Oh, and Frito Scoops with Helluva Good dip. We also had a store bought cake for dessert.  I'm sure it was a lot less work than usual for them but just as enjoyable, at least to me.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Ikea and Kerry

Yesterday I drove to VA (about 3 hours) for my friend Kerry's retirement party.  In order to avoid the horrible DC rush hour traffic I left early, which meant I had about 2 hours to kill, so I went to Ikea.

I've always liked Ikea since the Potomac Mills location opened in the mid-80s.  When Spouse & I lived in VA and had a beach home here, we bought dishes and placemats and kitchen utensils and lots of other stuff at Ikea.  We've also purchased 2 TV stands from the scratch & dent section there.

I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but since we've been talking about changing out the rugs and curtains in our TV room, I thought I'd check those out.  While I saw things I liked, none excited me enough to pull the trigger.  However, I did end up buying 2 decorative pillows for $3.99 each, a package of 4 pillar candles for $1.99, and a 'starter' tool kit (hammer, screw drivers, plyers, tape measure) for $7.99 which will make a nice little gift for a 1st time home buyer.  It was fun to browse through the store at my own pace.

Then I went to the retirement party at a community clubhouse.  It still pains me to think that my dear friend Kerry who is 9 months YOUNGER than me is retiring.  Only OLD people retire!!  But actually she had worked for the County school system (Head Start program) for 30 years, and retired yesterday at the age of 53. 

The party was organized by her sister Kelly and several of Kerry's friends from work who are also personal friends.  Several neighbors and friends like me were there, too.  I'd estimate about 100 people came to the party which was very enjoyable.  I took several photos but am just sharing 1 that kind of sums up the general mood/spirit:
Me, Alex, and Maura
It was a really nice tribute to Kerry who has touched the lives of so many consumers of the service she provided, but also influenced so many of her colleagues over the years.  The room was filled with love and gratitude.  We should all be so lucky!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Let there be lights

About 2 weeks ago I hired a couple of teenagers to weed our flower beds.  The weeds had gotten out of control and Spouse & I have neither the time nor the interest in removing them ourselves.  Plus, I think its nice to give teenagers an opportunity to earn 'pocket money' like I did when I was a teen.

Yesterday Spouse & I took advantage of the absolutely incredibly beautiful weather to try and prevent some of the weeds from returning, and to make the beds look prettier.  We cut some landscaping fabric to fit, spread a couple of bags of mulch, and then installed some solar powered landscape lights.
Here's one of the cleaned up beds in the daylight

Here's the same bed (from a different angle) at night

Here's another bed with more of the new lights
We're happy with the way it turned out.  Having the teens get us started with the weeding meant we could finish up and not kill ourselves trying to complete the project.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Repeal & replace

I haven't been posting much political stuff at all for several reasons:
  1. Lots of others are doing it, and doing it much better than I would
  2. I honestly can't keep up with all the unimaginably crazy/inappropriate/scary stuff going on
  3. Thinking about the aforementioned unimaginably crazy/inappropriate/scary stuff is driving me crazy
However, I came across this meme on Facebook and just found it too good not to share:

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse

So today was the big total eclipse.

Personally I don't 'get' the whole fascination with it, yet it dominated Facebook all day.  I mean really... what's so cool about a totalled Eclipse??

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hello, Fresh!

Our 1st dinner kit from Hello Fresh came on Mon.  We were super-impressed with the packaging.  The box is lined with insulated cardboard and the meats were packed between 2 freezer packs and were still cold after sitting on my porch for several hours.

Our 1st meal was Honey Mustard Chicken with roasted sweet potatoes, zucchini and onions.

Our 2nd meal was Thyme Honey Pork Chops over couscous with a nectarine arugula salad.

Our 3rd meal was Buttered Up Steak with roasted potatoes and garlicky green beans.

Spouse & I really liked all the meals.  One of his concerns prior to signing up was about the quality of the meats, but we both found them to be good/high quality.  Another of his concerns prior to signing up was that the portions would be too small, but we both felt they were perfectly sized.  In fact, Spouse feels these meal kits actually help with portion control and not over-eating.  I know we've both over-eaten simply because there was food that would be left-over, so we just ate it.

The things I enjoy most about the program:
  • Its fresh, real, whole food.  Whole vegetables you cut up, fresh garlic, herbs and spices, chilled (not frozen) meats.  You actually prepare/cook the food as opposed to defrosting or microwaving.
  • The menu is decided for you.  I don't have to struggle with what to make for dinner.
  • The ingredients are all provided, in the correct proportion.  No more forgetting a key ingredient at the grocery store, and no more wasted food from having to buy an entire bunch of celery when you only need 1 stalk.
  • The app allows you to see what menus are coming in the next week AND swap out any you don't like or have an allergy to.  You can also 'pause' a week if you're going away.
  • The program allows you to choose your delivery day of the week, which was really important to me.
The only 'negative' thing I've found about the program is the only 'negative' thing I anticipated: using a lot more pots, pans, plates and utensils than I did before.  And this is a relatively minor 'negative' thing since most of those items can be tossed in the dishwasher.

I think the cost is right on target.  The program costs $60 per week which gives you 3 meals for 2 people, so it averages out to $10 per meal.  You certainly couldn't get these meals in a restaurant for $10.  You may be able to purchase the ingredients in a grocery store for $10 or less, but the convenience of NOT having to shop is well worth it to me.

All in all I would say our 1st week was a big success!  I'm looking forward to next week's delivery.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Evening out

One of the many great things about living here at the beach is all the friends that come for vacations but don't stay with you.  We love meeting up for dinner and/or drinks with friends who are in town for a weekend or a few days at the beach.

Yesterday we enjoyed a really fun evening out.  We met Matt & Stacy and their twins Dana and Jake through Steven & Thad.  Matt & Stacy and Thad went to high school together.  The family came to the area to spend a few days at the beach so we all met up for dinner.

We intended to meet at a restaurant that happened to be closed, so we went next door to a place we'd not tried before.  At 1st it seemed a little sketchy because our waiter appeared to be tweaking, but he managed to get everyone's order right.  The 3 separate checks was a different story.

I had a cocktail called Liquid Lap Dance.
It was fine, but didn't really live up to its provocative name.

Matt and son Jake
Stacy
Dana
The food was pretty good and we had lots of laughs.  Dana and Jake will be freshmen in college next week so we got to hear all about their activities and bucket list items.  Although twins, they are not going to the same school.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hot dog


No special reason for posting this.  I just love Jennifer Coolidge!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

DIY

This is our laundry sink, logically located in the laundry room, next to the washer and dryer:
before
We primarily use the laundry sink for bathing Marvin & Walter.  Neither of them really like getting a bath.  Marvin tolerates it better and doesn't give us as much trouble as his brother.  Walter will make multiple attempts to try to escape the laundry tub, causing lots of splashes.  Both of them have gotten better with this, but between them and Spouse wrestling them to keep them in the sink, there can be lots of water splashed on the wall behind the sink.

I'd seen in the Lowes and Home Depot self-adhesive vinyl back splash tile, and since they're waterproof I thought this would be a great application.  Its WAY less expensive than actual tile and doesn't require grout or much skill level to apply.  But Spouse & I weren't happy with the color options found in Lowes and Home Depot, so I decided to look on Amazon.

Oh.  Em.  Gee.  Amazon had literally hundreds of colors and shapes of vinyl tile sheets.  And they were less expensive than the bricks and mortar stores.  So after surfing through a bunch of the options, Spouse & I agreed on a brightly colored mosaic.  Since the laundry room door is always closed and nobody goes in there but us, we weren't concerned with the color of the back splash coordinating with other colors in the house.  This gave us creative freedom to do something bright and fun.  
after
The sheets of vinyl tile came from Amazon in 2 days and it took me less than 10 minutes to 'peel and stick' them.  I used 6 of the 10 sheets so I've got 4 sheets leftover for other projects, although I can't think of any right now.

Oh, and the cost?

$19.99 with free 2-day shipping since we're Prime members.

I'm super happy with the value, the look, and the ease of installation.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Hello Fresh

For a couple of months now I've been seriously considering signing up for one of those meal kit delivery programs.  I asked my Facebook friends which they preferred, Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, and why.  I got some great feedback which helped me make a decision.

I chose Hello Fresh because most people felt there was more variety in the meals.  They've got a handy app that lets you look ahead at what's coming and allows you to swap out meals that contain something you don't like.  They work with farms to provide food just for them, so its not like those frozen microwave dinners that were never ever fresh.

I also liked that Hello Fresh gives you the ability to choose any day of the week for your meal kits to arrive.  That was important to me because we eat out on Fri, Sat, and Sun so I didn't want the 3 meals for 2 people to show up on Wed or Thurs.  I selected Mon delivery so I'd have fresh food on the nights we eat at home.

I like that the meals are thought out for me.  The main reason I hate going to the grocery store is because I get there and can't think what to buy for dinners for the week.  This takes care of it for me.  It also ensures that everything I need for the recipe is there, so no forgetting a key ingredient while at the grocery store.  The kit includes the correct amount of everything so there's no left-over ingredients and no waste.  

I also like that this is a set portion size which will prevent overeating.  Sometimes I catch myself eating more than I should because I don't want to save/put away a small amount of left-over food.  These are normal size portions and most are under 550 calories.

The only downside I can see is that it will likely require the use of more pots and pans than I'm used to using (I'm the king of 1-pot meals) so that means more hand washing since pots and pans never seem to get completely clean in the dishwasher.  But I think it will be worthwhile for all the convenience and healthy, fresh food.

I think this is going to be so good for me!  My 1st order arrives next Mon so I'll post again after I've made a few meals.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tired

Mondays... nobody really likes them.  But after working both Sat & Sun and being incredibly busy will all manner of annoying situations, I am exhausted today and do NOT feel like working.

My next day off is Thurs, which means I will have worked 6 days in a row.  Not that this is 'incredible', but being the time of year that it is (summer) and the location (beach resort), I will have been super busy for 6 straight days.

And I'm already exhausted.