Sunday, January 31, 2010

Slave to the sun

When it's a winter wonderland outside, where do you want to be?

Smack dab in the middle of a ray of sunshine, of course.













I love how Morgan lays with all four legs out in front of her.













On the weekends, I move the bed all around the dining room, following the light so Morgan has her place in the sun.

Hmm, remind me: Who's the slave here?

Snow 2010

The McHusband says we got 4 to 6 inches of snow. He's the numbers person around here so I'm going with his guesstimate.

The deck stairs around 11:00 yesterday morning.

















Just like on the snow-free days, all Tucker wanted to do was chase his frisbee. He always came back with a snowy snout.













Morgan, too, did what she often does when the backyard isn't a winter wonderland.













She sought shelter once the novelty wore off. Smart puppy.













We went out behind the fence and saw some "actual children," as the McHusband said, way up the gasline path back there. We were so surprised at the absence of people, especially kids, on our street. When my sisters and I were growing up, we would've been outside with half the neighborhood by 9:00 in the morning.

















After I took Morgan in, I saw that the McHusband was playing hide and seek with Tucker. Can you find the McHusband?













There he is!













Tucker has a hard time accepting that we're done playing with the frisbee. He'll just sit and stare at it, then look at you and back at it, and the message is very clear: "I see the frisbee, I want the frisbee, throw the frisbee."



























Check out the helicopter game.
video

Morgan had fun with the not-so-soft ball.
video

We walked the dogs around 5:30 and the roads in the neighborhood were pretty treacherous so we'll be going into work a little late tomorrow. I'd rather have a snow day and stay home with HD Movies On Demand, but I don't think it's gonna happen.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A quick preview

The dogs had a great time playing in the snow today. Pictures and video of that tomorrow. For now, I'll just show you the house and a bundled-up McHusband.






























Hope everyone stayed safe and warm today!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You gotta keep it insulated

(Say the title to the beat of the first line in The Offspring's "Come Out and Play" - You gotta keep 'em separated.)

Our bonus room is very sensitive. To the temperature, that is. It's very warm in the summer - over 80 degrees some days - and cold in the winter. We're probably going to add some insulation to the attic, but the McHusband also thought that insulating the garage, which is right under the bonus room, would help. It would also be nice for him when he's out working in the garage if it could remain a little more temperate.

Here's what he was working with:













It actually goes on the garage door, not in the walls.

Before:













And after:













It kinda looks like the garage door is wearing a ski parka - the outside layer is smooth and slippery but underneath is all poofy. Looks kinda cozy, doesn't it?

No verdict yet on if it's helped because the McHusband just finished last night. If I had to guess, I'd say this was one of the easier house projects that he's undertaken. Maybe a little tedious with the cutting that was necessary, but certainly a very doable project even if you aren't a handy-dandy McHusband.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

{Don't} Booze It & Lose It

I decided that starting the Sunday after Shawn and Vanessa's party, the 17th, I wouldn't drink until Valentine's Day weekend. Then I'd re-evaluate and maybe extend my sobriety through mid-March when we have our St. Patrick's Day party.

My hope is that not taking in the extra and unnecessary calories from my wine spritzers and 200-calories-per-bottle Woodchuck Ciders = making it easier to lose a few pounds. The McHusband's really making a conscious effort to eat more protein and less crap like chips so I think it'll be easier for me to improve my overall diet as well. I'll keep up with my workouts at the Y (Power Hour, spinning, muscle conditioning, and using the cardio machines) and we'll just see what happens.

Okay, that being said, I have a confession to make. I already broke my no-drinking resolution. See, we went to Sullivan's Steakhouse last night for our friend 40th birthday. He has been much stronger than me in his resolve not to drink, but he decided to have a celebratory Amstel Light with his dinner. He was sitting next to me and what can I say, his decision to have a drink was contagious. Plus, the restaurant has a Knockout Martini that's supposed to be amazing. How could I not give it a try?













I have to admit, it was pretty darn good.

I don't think my alcohol calories were what I really needed to worry about last night. I got the Blue Cheese Meatloaf and it was divine. Absolutely divine. I like meatloaf okay, but it's not going to be my first choice. Let me tell you - this wasn't your average meatloaf. The sauce and the mushrooms that came with it just took the flavor to a whole 'nother level.













(I promise, it tasted better than it looked.)

Well anyway, I just wanted to put my no-drinking resolution out there for the universe. I hope I can stay stronger for the next three weeks than I was last night.

(Why can't it be You Snooze, You Lose? I'd give Twiggy a run for her money!)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

30 in 2010

No, this isn't a post about a weight-loss resolution. I'm going to try to read 30 books this year. I'm reading A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz right now. It's basically a memoir of life with his first dog, which he didn't get until he was middle-aged. I had no idea he hadn't grown up with dogs and more specifically with Golden Retrievers because several of his books have featured dogs or had them as prominent characters with Goldens seeming to be his dog of choice. Watchers is about a highly intelligent Golden, and it's probably my favorite book of his.

Anyway, see this pile of books?













I've read two of them so far (coincidentally they were the top two). I was already a fan of Alex Kava, but I hadn't read any books by the other authors. In fact, I hadn't heard of any of them except David Sedaris.

I was in Barnes & Noble yesterday and saw a new release by Jason Pinter. I picked it up thinking I'd read something by him before, but the story's synapsis on the back didn't sound remotely familiar. Imagine my surprise when I saw this picture a few minutes ago and saw Jason Pinter's name. Ah, yes, it all makes sense now.

Guess where I got the pile of books? My grandma! Yep, she'd read them all - and more - and said I could look through her books and take any of them with me that I wanted. Like a sale rack at Marshall's, I had to wade through more than a few things I didn't want (Harlequin romance books - you go Grandma!) to find what worked for me, but it was definitely worth the effort. That stack of books adds up to a decent chunk of change, which I can put toward other books so I can reach my goal of reading at least 30 books in 2010.

I might even start doing a post about each book so maybe my fellow bookworms will have recommendations (or warnings as not all the books will be hits, I'm sure) if they're looking for something to read.

By the way, would it surprise any of you to know that I participated in Battle of the Books in seventh grade? We had to read thirty books for that competition so this'll be like my personal Battle of the Books. Minus the team members and Q & A practice sessions with Mrs. Denton.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Paaaaaah-tay!

We went to Shawn and Vanessa's for a post-holiday party on Saturday. There was food, friends, and Partini.

First, though, an announcement.

Two of the people in this picture are going to be throwing the third person a baby shower in a few months.













Vickie's pregnant! She's due mid-July, and we are super thrilled for her and Terry.

You know how it is at a party, everyone gathers in the kitchen.
























Shannon got me Partini for Christmas so I took it with me on Saturday and we girls played a rousing round of the game. I'm proud to say that my team won, woohoo!













My team, a.k.a. The Winners.













Vanessa and Jennifer had more fun than I thought possible with the "Wild" coasters. Here's the most blog-appropriate picture I can provide.













And there's Paris-Britney! You might remember her from our cookout this past summer.

I think I'm going to let some pictures speak for themselves.
















































As always, we had a great time. Thanks, Shawn and Vanessa!

Funday Sunday

We got a new-to-us TV. Chelle and Jeremy got a new (for-real new) TV for their bonus room so we bought their old TV, and the McHusband set it up on the bonus room this weekend. He had to do some rearranging, but the room is now set up more the way I'd originally thought it would be.













The McHusband even hooked up his Play Station and broke out the Grand Turismo game for a while this afternoon. Please note the classic zoned-out look that only video games can produce.













Tucker made himself comfortable for the game.


























The weather was weird today. It was warm, and we had sunshine, then clouds and rain, then the sun would come back out, then we had thunder and lightning and sudden downpours. Sounds like a recipe for a rainbow. Or two.













The one on the left got stronger as some time went by.

















I'm glad the view out the front of the house was nice because it wasn't too pretty in the backyard.

















I know you can't really tell, but this picture is right where the dogs always end up just off the deck when we let them out through the back door. Exhibit A for why we're going to do a patio in that area.

















We did complete one project today. The McHusband switched out the dining room light fixture for me. It's not the best picture, but I don't want to leave you hanging.

















Hope everyone else's Sundays were full of rainbows and puppies!

Recipe Recap: Chocolate Chess Pie

We went to Shawn and Vanessa's for a post-holiday bash on Saturday. I decided to make a couple of the Angus Barn's Chocolate Chess Pies to take over there. When we were there for New Year's Eve, our waiter included a postcard with our check and the recipe for the pie was on it.













I guess it's pretty common that frozen pie crusts come in packages of two. Since I had enough ingredients to make two pies, I figured, "What the heck!" (The McHusband loves that phrase of mine.)

Chocolate Chess Pie
1 unbaked pie crust
1 stick of butter
2 squares Bakers Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt

Melt butter and chocolate together then mix it with the other ingredients, which have already been blended together. Pour into pie crust and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Tori says, "Whatcha eatin'?"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How's it hangin'?

The McHusband completed a minor project last night, but I think it's going to have a big impact on our lives.

Okay, maybe not on our LIVES, but on our hand-drying.

I normally kept the towel for the kitchen sink stuck in a drawer so that it was accessible but not on the counter.













During my normal cleaning routine this past weekend, I decided it would be nice to use a cabinet handle as a towel holder. It wouldn't stick out too far (something I had to consider on the McHusband's - and our future children's - behalf), it wouldn't cost too much, and it would be easy to install.

Tada!













The towel can slide far enough over so that you can open one side of the cabinet or the other without an problem. And what I like is that the hardware holds the towel close enough to the cabinet that you can pull up on the bottom on the towel to dry your hands and it won't slip out.

















You can get some over-the-cabinet towel holders like this one from Target, but I felt like that would put the towel too low, plus I like the more finished, "meant-to-be-here" look of the permanent hardware.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Koo-pahn or Kyu-pahn?

However you say it, coupons are definitely a good thing. If inquiring minds want to know, I'm a kyu-pahn girl myself.

I think the recent state of the economy really brought coupon queens (and kings) into the limelight. There are blogs and newspaper columns devoted to couponning, and some people have turned it into a hobby. It's the new scrapbooking. I know there are web sites for trading coupons and people get together to do the same thing IRL (in real life).

I've made half-hearted attempts in the past to cut coupons and use them, but it seems like I don't have the coupon with me when I go to get my breakfast bars, or the only coupons I come across are for foods that we just don't need. $1.00 off Pop-Tarts? No thanks.

We get a local paper delivered to the house once a week. It's free, and it usually has two coupon "booklets" (what the heck to do you call those "magazines" of coupons anyway?) with it. I decided today to sit and look through the coupons. If I found a few worth using, I'd make the effort. I needed to hit the grocery store anyway and I knew Harris Teeter was doing a double coupon special this week.

Well, color me converted. I only clipped coupons for stuff we'd actually eat and use (like string cheese, pasta, and Lysol cleaners), and I actually found all of the items. Check out my list of coupon discounts:

















This is the first time I've been to Harris Teeter since the new year started. I had $20.04 in VIC savings, and - are you ready for this? - almost $38 in coupon savings!













Are you KIDDING me?!













I'm pretty impressed, and I'm definitely convinced that this kind of savings is worth the effort. I don't plan to get a binder for organizing my coupons nor do I plan to join any online couponning communities, but I can certainly look through a newspaper once a week and clip a few coupons for stuff I know I'll buy anyway.

And I'm giddy at the thought of Harris Teeter's TRIPLE coupon event!