Monday, September 28, 2015

Autumn events...

Friday, September 25, 2015 
Friday was one of those perfect early autumn days with a temperature in the high 70s and sunny with a gentle breeze - a perfect day for a Tailgating Party. Last week a nice young lady (to clarify, someone who looked they probably only just graduated from college) from one of the hotels down the road from my company gave me a flyer inviting all of us to attend a (free) Tailgating Party they were having on their patio.
I know my coworkers well enough to know none of them would be remotely interested in attending, but in spite of that, I still stuck the flyer on our refrigerator door. I told my friend (who works upstairs) about it and she thought about it, but declined. Over dinner I mentioned it to my husband, "...unless you want to come gatecrash the Tailgating Party with me." "Sure," he answered, so I had my plus one!
There weren't a lot of attendees in hour three, but there was still plenty of food - several different kinds of sliders, pasta salad, potato salad, a relish tray, potato chips (which the flyer said were homemade), tortilla chips and salsa/humus, and some sort of bread triangles. Desserts were cookies and some sort of brownie triangles. Although we had the option of having an alcoholic beverage (which I knew would be frowned upon by my company), we both opted for the very delicious (but slow pouring) strawberry lemonade.
After cleaning our plates we both debated whether to go back for any more sliders before moving on to the dessert tray. After a brief deliberation, we opted just to go straight for the desserts. I may or may not have grabbed a cookie to go, but no one seemed to mind (or saw me tuck it away).
Since we still had a bit of time before we needed to head back, I gave my husband a quick tour of my gym (which is next door to the hotel). Now he knows what I mean when I complain about the humidity level of the track over the swimming pool, although, it being still early in the day, it didn't actually feel too bad. In spite of it being a bit of a 'no frills" (i.e., a bit grungy in places) gym, he seemed to like it, so there may be a chance of a membership later.
All in all a nice lunch break with a little spontaneity, which is always nice.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Today my husband and I did one of my favorite autumn traditions (though I only do this every few years), which was to go apple picking. Last time I did this was in 2013 I think when I went to Lynd Fruit Farm in Pataskala with my mom, sister and a friend. This time I wanted to try somewhere closer, so upon a recommendation from a coworker, we went to The Orchard and Company in Plain City. They were having a fall festival, so there was plenty of people and joyful noises coming from all the children.
After some minor deliberating, we opted to buy one small bag and one large bag, which cost us about $34. We picked mostly Macoun, but I wandered further afield and picked what might have been Gala apples (the sign said ‘Variety’) and a handful of Golden Delicious. We definitely got our money’s worth as we filled our bags to the brim and tried one of the little Gala (?) apples before leaving.

Since I heard that Yutzey’s Farm Market was nearby, we decided to stop there next. I couldn’t resist picking up a couple albino pumpkins for the front porch. Inside it was your typical farm market with fresh meat and produce, lots of jams and jellies, pickles (I chose a jar of Million Dollar pickles), relishes, and all manner of sweets. I was also surprised to see an aisle with various kinds of baking powders – different kinds of flour, cornmeal, sugar, etc. I bought a bag of organic sprouted whole grain wheat flour to use in making homemade bread since that’s supposed to be healthier than using regular white flour. I also grabbed a couple bags of homemade oatmeal – red raspberry and wild blueberry. My final purchase was a pumpkin flavored fry pie. I coaxed Andrew into buying one too, so he selected a Black Raspberry one.

On Sunday we used some of our Golden Delicious apples (and leftover bagels) to make Grandma’s Apple Bread Pudding (an internet recipe). It was very good and we still have a few apples left for eating, so we froze the leftover bread pudding and will probably just eat the apples this week.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Today we attended a screening of the annual “Manhattan Short Film Festival.” We had our choice between two local theatres – the Gateway Film Center or the Grandview Theatre. Since going to the Gateway often means playing chicken with students who like to just walk right out into the middle of the street, it was an easy decision to chose the Grandview Theatre. Plus, we like to support the little guy, and going to Grandview is always fun. Too bad ‘Pure Imagination Chocolatier’ was closed. I’m still hoping to sample some of their ice cream (tried their chocolates back in July and they’re quite good).

As per normal, there are ten finalists and they’re all international films. This year it seemed that most were from either France or Germany. Hence, lots of subtitles to read. My top three favorites were: “Dad in Mum,” “Bis Gleich,” and “Grounded.” “Bear Story” was a close fourth. I voted for “Grounded,” though I think “Shok” will probably win. It's a movie about the ongoing conflict in Kosovo. Although it certainly wasn't the only dramatic film, it was the film with the most social conscience. Andrew voted for “Bis Gleich.”

The reason I voted for "Grounded" was because of how involved I felt with the film because it had me on the edge of my seat eager to find out what would happen next. It's about a woman with a newborn trying to travel to London from Paris to attend her mother's funeral, but forgets her daughter's birth certificate. Hence, there's an endless amount of delays and dealings with several airport staff, but rest assured it does have a happy, albeit sweaty, ending. It also shows the power of good when someone goes above and beyond the call of duty in their job, so I felt inspired by that.

I will be eager to see who wins next Monday (Oct. 5th) when they announce it over the internet at 10am EST.

After getting back from the movie I had an appointment to get my hair cut. I wanted bangs like Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. I made sure to put photos on my phone so my stylist had a good reference point. Though my hair isn’t nearly as long as Kate’s, nor do I plan on letting it grow anywhere near that long, I figured bangs couldn’t hurt. I think I made the right decision, and I definitely have a different look than I’ve ever had before, so it’s a refreshing change (especially along with all the new clothes I’ve bought this year). Here’s a photo of me dressed in my Princess Kate-wannabe blue dress.
Have a good week everyone!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Matthew Kelly

Saturday September 19, 2015
Saturday I was up early as I had volunteered to help out at an event at my church, St. Brendan’s. Thankfully I live nearby so I didn’t have to get up as early as some (6 a.m. for me). I am also grateful that my husband, Andrew agreed to get up with me so he could drop me off (parking was at a premium since we were expecting about 900 people).

We had to check-in by 7am for volunteer training for the Matthew Kelly lecture that was scheduled to start at 9am. As expected, the orientation didn't take too long and coffee and donuts were provided for the volunteers (but I passed on both). I was assigned the task of handing out goodie bags to all visitors with a ticket. Those without a ticket were sent to the 'Ticket Solution' table inside (and then given a bag later, presumably). The bag contained a hard cover copy of the same book we all received for Christmas, a copy of the confirmation students' paperback textbook, a CD, a paperback journal, and a pen. He encouraged the audience members to take notes in the journal. I opted to leave my goodie bag (free for all the volunteers! : ) in the cabinet in the gathering space, but I did jot down a few things on my phone. I preferred to listen and just take it all in that way since you sometimes miss things when you're too busy writing and not listening.

Overall, I thought Matthew Kelly was quite good. He got his points across with humor and repetition. 

My favorite story was a family story he shared with us. He has four kids I think, and they're all quite young. Apparently the two middle kids were squabbling, and his younger daughter was complaining to him about something her brother had done to her. Matthew asked her, "Isabel, what do you think we should do with Walter?" Matthew then explained when Isabel learned a new word she liked to practice using it, and her word for the week happened to be "recommend." "Daddy," she said, "I recommend we hang Walter on a cross like Jesus." (cue audience roaring with laughter and perhaps a bit horrified). Matthew said later in the day Isabel came up to him in his home office - "Daddy," she asked, "do you have any nails?"

I was just sorry that Matthew didn't hang around afterwards. Apparently he had another engagement to get to, or he wanted to head home (he's an Aussie but lives in Cincinnati now). A couple teenage female groupies were a bit gutted when I told them he had already left.

Honestly, even though I’ve read three books of his and enjoyed them for the most part, I'm not a huge fan of him as a person, though I think he does great works. I'm just glad I didn't splash out for a new copy of one of his other books to get autographed since that would have been a waste of money. I'm glad I was able to leave earlier than I anticipated (by about 45 min.), so I ate lunch at a decent hour and had all afternoon to get things done before returning to church to be a welcome greeter at the 5:30pm mass.

Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Friday September 11, 2015
Today was a mixed day.

My mom called me at work in the morning to tell me that our Uncle Tom had passed away. This was much expected as he was in hospice and hadn’t been doing well lately, so we all knew it was a matter of time (he had had ALS for many years).

Later on I had time to go to a couple garage sales during lunch and scored some bargains. I haggled the price of a bag of goods down from $25 to $20, so I was proud of myself.

Not long after I got back to the office a monsoon blew through (though it has been sunny all morning up to that point). A tree branch snapped over on Emerald Parkway (a street just a few miles from our office) and took down a power line with it. Hence, at around 2:30pm or soon thereafter, our entire building was plunged into darkness. Once we reached our local electric company who said power wasn’t likely to be restored for several hours, my boss sent us home.

This makes two Fridays in a row where we’ve had storms blow through and two weeks in a row where we’ve been sent home early one day (though last time it was due to a computer virus).

I don’t have any pictures from the storm since there wasn’t very much debris in our yard after this one, though there were certainly a lot of leaves and twigs from the previous week’s. We now have a pretty good heap of wood to burn in our chiminea.

Saturday September 12, 2015
Because I got my purses and t-shirts all sorted on Friday, I decided to reward myself with a movie and shopping trip. The weather kind of lent itself to spending time indoors, at least in the morning since it was a bit chilly and overcast.

I had wanted to see, “A Walk in the Woods,” based on Bill Bryson’s 1998 book of the same name. Apparently Robert Redford bought the rights to the book shortly after reading it, but hadn’t done anything with it until a year or so ago when he finally got around to shooting the movie. Originally he had wanted it to star himself and his friend, Paul Newman, but that plan obviously got nixed because Newman passed away in 2008. It’s just as well since I think Nick Nolte did a pretty good job capturing the essence of Bryson’s friend, Stephen Katz.

There were only seven of us in the theatre, and I was most definitely the youngest one there. What can I say, Bill Bryson has fans of all ages! Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I heard the seniors laughing at several of Katz’ antics. I asked one of the ladies afterwards if she had ever read the book, and she said she hadn’t. It’s been a long time since I read it, so I was curious how faithfully Redford’s adaptation followed the text. So far it seems that just the laundromat scene and the bit at the hotel where Mary Steenburgen’s character chats with Bill Bryson’s character, was manufactured. Otherwise, it seems a fairly faithful adaptation, like Redford promised, though apparently Bryson gave him carte blanche to change whatever he wanted.

At the end of the day it won’t win any Oscars, but it was enjoyable all the same and a nice way to spend a couple hours on a Saturday afternoon.

Since I don’t have any pictures from the movie, but I do have photos of hikers, this will have to do:

Sunday September 13, 2015
Today I made another trip to Goodwill to drop off some donations and pick up a few items that I had passed up the day before (mostly kitchen items, but clothes too).

Walking around a Goodwill store one can’t help but notice how much a reflection it is on what’s popular, or rather what was popular, but is now passé in the world of electronics, kitchen gadgets, clothing and accessories, just to name a few. I noticed stuffed animals no longer have a place on the shelf. In fact, this branch of Goodwill seemed to lack much in the way of kids’ toys altogether, not that that’s a bad thing; merely an observation.

After trying on more than a dozen pairs of jeans and having the poor Goodwill volunteer unlock the dressing room door at least half a dozen times, I narrowed my selection of clothes down to: a pair of jeans, a pair of dressy slacks, a pair of shorts, a shirt, and a blazer (the previous day I bought a cardigan and a jumper).

Suffice it to say I ended up buying probably as much as I donated, but at least it’s all for charity!

Monday September 14, 2015
A beautiful autumn day with temperatures in the 70s, sunny and bright. Hence, I didn’t mind getting out of work early to drive up to northeast Ohio for my Uncle Tom’s calling hours. My sister, Karen, had phoned me earlier in the morning to ask if we could take my car instead since she was having battery issues with hers. As she still volunteered to do some of the driving, I readily agreed (I especially hate driving the freeways in Columbus – at least until you get past the Worthington corridor clusterf*&k.

I wasn’t quite sure what music she liked, other than the Gin Blossoms and Fastball, whom we saw in concert back in July. For a bit of nostalgia we started out with the soundtrack to “Pretty Woman.” It didn’t really matter since it was only background for our (okay – my!) constant chatter. Still, it made the long drive go faster and we made good time arriving shortly after the 6pm start time.

We only arrived a few minutes after my parents and soon saw several people we knew, so we spent the next couple of hours catching up with relatives we hadn’t seen since the calling hours for my aunt nearly four years ago this same month. My sister and I agreed we’re definitely going to have to attend one of the annual family reunions held every August in Altoona, PA. However, we also both agree the reunion needs to be a stop on the way either to or from somewhere else. First thought was Hershey Park, but it appears to be about two and a half hours drive from Altoona. Still, no further than how far we are from northeast Ohio, so I suppose that’s doable. None of us have ever been to Philadelphia either, so that’s another possibility.

After a couple hours of trading stories, looking at pictures, and taking a trip down memory lane, it was time for the party to break up (literally since calling hours were supposed to be over at 8pm) and for us to hit the road back to Columbus, so we said our good-byes and grabbed our souvenir CD. How cool is that??? Who’d have thought you’d leave a funeral with a goody-bag? (we didn’t, but it sounds more poetic).
This is me with my Aunt Jane (d. 2011) and Uncle tom (d. 2015) on my First Communion. Incidentally, they were my sister's Godparents.

Apparently Tom Jr., or “Tommy” to all of us who grew up with him, was up until 3am compiling songs that he and his father had sung together over the last 40 years or so. I believe there’s 9 tracks plus an intro. Expertly done and what a wonderful gift. Way to go Tommy! Your dad would be proud.

While the first song played I told my sister that if this was a movie, this would be how the last scene was played out as we rode off into the sunset (although we were way past that point in the evening). Hence, I will end this week’s entry here. Happy trails everyone…

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Labor Day weekend...

Monday September 7, 2015 Labor Day
Labor Day indeed! As per usual, we pretty much worked throughout the day, not that I had made plans for much in the way of leisure, but odd jobs kept cropping up. We weren’t the only ones laboring, mind you. One of my coworkers said she hoped to complete a bathroom renovation, and a friend from church said she was putting up drywall in her garage. Also, while I was outside working this morning, I heard various outdoor machinery being used by our neighbors who were obviously not taking the day off to rest and relax.

My plans for the weekend included: making cake pops, doing laundry and going through whatever I could get sorted (purses, papers, t-shirts, photos, etc.). Also on my list of things to do was to put ads on Craig’s List/Columbus Freecycle/Nextdoor Ridgewood to sell various household items.

Of all these items I’ve listed above, I got everything done, except sorting through my purses, papers, t-shirts, photos, etc., though I did go through one small box of papers on Friday evening, so that was better than nothing.

Of the odd jobs that cropped up, the one most time consuming was washing the walls of our front porch. I hadn’t planned on doing that, but when I took down my spring wreath (yes, I know spring was two seasons ago!), I found a whole mess of trouble behind it. The wall had several yellow stains and my wreath, complete with a bird’s nest, also came with a bird, which had long since expired. Sad, yes, but so goes the circle of life. I suppose I’m just a bit jaded about these things having grown up in the country, and having gotten used to removing various creatures from our house which our cat has brought in.

Two to three hours later our porch walls look spic and span, and I’m sure I traumatized at least a couple spiders, but it’s a chore that was long overdue considering we had never once (not that I recall anyway) washed the porch walls in the ten years we’ve lived in our house. 

Seeing how hard I was working on the porch inspired Andrew to wash all our windows – the outsides at least, so they look pretty good now too (but I still have kitty nose prints to remove on the insides of some of them).

We were very successful with our eight Craig’s List/Columbus Freecycle/Nextdoor Ridgewood ads. We sold four out of our eight listed items which included: a computer, a (music) keyboard, an antique trunk, and a set of three plastic dressers. Now we have some spending money for our vacation next month!

The cake pops turned out pretty well and there’s a handful that I’d even say turned out perfect in terms of taste and appearance. There are three dozen in our freezer and we’ve been gradually eating the rejects that fell apart when we went to dip them in chocolate.

I used two boxes of leftover brownies and two boxes of leftover chocolate cake from City Barbecue which yielded almost 5 dozen cake pops – some I called Cookies and Cream (the ones made from the brownies) and the others were more traditional cake pops. Andrew said he thought the Cookies and Cream ones actually tasted better because there was more of a contrast between the chocolate we used (white Ghirardelli disks) and the texture and taste of the brownies (which were a mixture of choc chip and caramel). Whenever we get around to eating some of stockpile, I hope to next make Oreo cake pops using the same formula/recipe.

Besides doing stuff around our house, we went over to my sister’s house on Saturday night and helped her do a little moving (after a free pizza dinner. Thanks Karen!!!) in the way of helping her empty out her old kitchen of food in the cupboards and refrigerator/freezer. It was kind of fun laughing about how old some of the items were. In fact, there was a large jar of pickles that was absolutely stuck to the top shelf in the refrigerator. We eventually pried it loose, but not sure how long it had been there! I always assumed Karen was more organized than me all around, but at least in the kitchen, I have her beat, though I’m sure many of my condiments and spices are probably several years old, but maybe not as old as hers! Of course we have a lot less inventory with there only being two of us, so that makes it a little bit easier to keep track of things.

As far as arts and entertainment go, we watched the director’s cut of “Cinema Paradiso,” which I had bought on Andrew’s birthday from that funky old electronics store in Huber Heights. We also just finished watching the BBC series, “Ashes to Ashes,” which I received (on dvd) for my birthday about a year ago, and which was on TV in the UK about 10+ years ago I think. It certainly had an interesting ending and definitely not in any way predictable. I finally finished reading The Martian by Andy Weir. It was an excellent book, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the movie which is due to come out next month.

Monday afternoon I finally decided to put the cartridge of film I had bought earlier this summer into my Polaroid SX-70. This was as much about seeing if my camera worked as well as testing out Impossible b/w film. I am happy to report that it was a successful experiment and I am quite pleased by the results. I have a couple more ideas for pictures, but am going to hold off for now until the weather cools down a little (which is safer for development purposes).

Andrew’s weekend achievements, besides washing all the windows, include finally getting around to tidying up his home office, as well as washing the cover to the Ikea chair both he and Tamsin takes turn sitting on. The cover had about as many stains as the wall on our front porch, but fortunately most of the stains seemed to come out in the wash (and my sunflower wreath seems to have covered the stains on the wall that I couldn’t remove).

Saturday and Sunday mornings we both went for a run around the neighborhood and managed to tally around five miles between the two of us over the course of two days. I am curious how many miles we accumulate by constantly going up and down all the stairs in our tri-level house. I guess someday I’ll have to put on my pedometer and see.

Of course I wish I had another one or two days off so I could designate a little leisure time between chores, but I guess that will have to wait until another day…

Have a good week everyone!