Category Archives: Life in General

Christmas is when?

It totally does not feel like Christmas. The weather isn’t helping either. Nonetheless, we got our Christmas tree yesterday. It was kind of an adventure, but not a very exciting one.

Sean really really wanted white LED Christmas lights. Like, really wanted. Although apparently white lights are nearly impossible to find this close to Christmas. I was fine with just getting color lights, but Sean wasn’t having any of that.

The quest for lights started Saturday night when we stopped at the Target near our house on the way home. They had hardly any lights at all, so then we went next door to Lowes. Their light selection was nearly nonexistent. Sunday we first went to Wal-Mart (despite my plea to not go to that awful place) where the cashier pretty much laughed at us and said we should have gotten them in October.

From there it was off to the North Hills Target. That store actually had a pretty good selection of lights left, but no warm white LEDs. They did have a few boxes of the round cool white LED lights, but I don’t like those at all. They had some lights lit up on display, and I tried to talk Sean into the colors and he nearly said yes… but I could tell he didn’t really want them. While we stood there in the aisle debating the different lights, at least two other people were muttering about not finding white lights.

Then it was off to Home Depot. Again, no white lights and when we left empty handed the cashier even said, “Looking for white lights?” in a tone that said she had seen a steady stream of people searching for the elusive white Christmas lights. After that Sean had just about had it, but we were near Ace so I convinced him to give them a shot before we gave up entirely. Ace is one of those surprising places that often has things you are looking for, if only because most people forget about them and just go to the larger stores.

Shockingly, Ace had all sorts of lights. We were able to pick up several spools of warm white LEDs and restore Sean’s happy holiday spirit. I even remembered to pick up ornament hooks, which I typically don’t remember until I am hanging ornaments… and the only reason I remembered was because they were conveniently hanging across from the lights. So Ace is our current hero of retail. It makes me want to go stand in the light aisle at Target and tell all the people searching for white lights to go to Ace.

Getting the tree was pretty easy, especially with the truck, but setting it up was another minor adventure because we decided to see if there was a way we could arrange the living room to make the tree work in there. Long story short: there isn’t. So after rearranging and un-rearranging the furniture in the living room the tree ended up where it always has… shoved in the corner of the bay window in the kitchen.

Tis The Season to Dress Fancy

Last night was my company holiday party. Yes, I actually went. When I worked for Mo the holiday parties were always formal affairs where they would rent out a place like Solas and do the whole formal dance meets night club thing for all 300+ employees and their guests. Not my scene. And luckily no one really cared much if you bowed out of those, so until last night I had always avoided the company parties.

My new company had a much more appealing plan of renting out half of the Italian restaurant in Bright Leaf Square for our 40ish employees and their +1, and hiring some company to do a “Casino Night” where we all got $10k in chips (fake of course) to “gamble” with. They called this a semi-formal affair and gave the instructions of “no jeans, but no tuxes either” … which is rather vague. Plus I guess no one realizes that tuxes are actually semi-formal wear, but whatever. I will refrain from a Sheldon Cooper-esque rant.

Since there was no dancing or need to wear an evening gown I decided to go. It turned out to be an enjoyable evening. We went with the intention of having dinner and socializing briefly, but ended up staying all night. They had poker, craps, roulette, and blackjack. I just played blackjack, and actually managed to come in third place, winning some movie theater gift cards. Sean seemed to have fun as well, and got to see several of his old work buddies.

What to wear to the thing was of course a little stressful given the vague requirements, but I managed to pull together an outfit that worked. I found this awesome shirt and black cardigan at White House Black Market to go with a pair of black dress pants I already owned. I love it when I manage to pull off comfy and dressy. I just hope I have as much luck for the next dressy holiday party.

The next party will be harder to pull off because there is a theme and I have to find specific colors – yellow and black. Yellow seems to be the least popular color for clothing in winter. Maybe I will be lucky and find a shirt that works with what I wore to the work party… that would be super handy. I did order one online that was on clearance from last season, but not sure it will a) fit, b) look good, or c) get here in time. So, for now, the search for Plan B continues. Wonder if I could pull off a yellow scarf. Ugh, dressing fancy is such a pain. If only we could just wear pajamas all the time. I guess it is nice to get dressed up sometimes though.

Invisalign?

So my teeth suck. They don’t look that bad aside from a small gap, but my bite is off and I have one molar in particular that has a (to me) fairly severe cross bite that bothers me constantly because it has a pointy bit that hits my tongue. I also have jaw pain because of the misaligned bite.

I have been thinking about Invisalign for a long time. When I switched dentists a couple months ago I noticed they did Invisalign so I inquired about it, but she said the cross bite would be better treated by an orthodontist. So, while on vacation, I went to an orthodontist for a consultation.

The orthodontist visit was a little strange because everything seemed to be geared towards teenagers. They had video game consoles, TVs, bright colors, and even the orthodontist himself seemed to be trying to be “hip” with his dyed hair and photos of him playing Rock Band on the walls. I felt severely out of place. Which really just served to drive home the fact that I do not want traditional braces at this stage of life, so I was really happy with he said Invisalign would work for me. I told him I wasn’t going for perfect, I just want my bite to align better and I wanted the cross bite fixed.

Anyway, I still have time to back out if I decide I don’t want to go through the pain, hassle, and expense of it… but I don’t think I will. I am scheduled to go for impressions on Jan 3, and then it will take about two months to get the trays made. I can’t remember how long they I had to wear them right now, I think it was like 16 months or something. But from what I have read online it could be longer if they need to refine things or if teeth don’t move like they should. And then I get to wear a retainer for a while.

Reading people talk about it online it sounds like it will be a pain literally and figuratively, but they all seemed to say it was worth it got better over time. The way it works is you get all these trays made, and you progress through the trays every two weeks. There will be a “button” on the trays to attach rubber bands to for the cross bite correction. You take the trays out to eat and brush your teeth, but that is it. I will also need to clean the trays of course, because apparently they can build plaque up just like teeth can. And, joy, I will talk funny at first and maybe even drool. Another thing that sounds unpleasant is that the trays are said to be really tight at first, and hard to remove the first few days you wear each tray… with my luck I will rip a crown off with the trays.

I am definitely not looking forward to wearing or paying for the trays, but I am really excited about the prospect of having less jaw pain and fixing the cross bite. I just hope they really are invisible, or at least barely noticeable.

An Excellent Staycation So Far

We decided to take a couple weeks off, and I am so glad we did. Things didn’t go as planned at work on Friday, so I actually ended up working from home a bit on Monday… but I have managed to not work since then. It has taken me until today to stop thinking about work all day, I barely even read my work email.

What grand things have we done? Not much. Just relaxed and took care of some things that we have been putting off like routine doctor/dentist appointments, searching for a new dining table, etc. Today was probably the most awesome day so far. Earlier this week the shopkeeper at Savory Spice told us about Counter Culture’s weekly Friday cupping while we were chatting with her about how awesome Jubala is, which lead to a conversation about coffee and stuff.

Every Friday at 10am Counter Culture has a “cupping” at their training centers, which are open to both employees and the public. Since the Durham location is where they roast all their coffee, the Durham location has the added bonus of a tour. It was pretty cool, although some of the people there were definitely a little too into coffee for someone that is not employed in the coffee industry. They set out three types of coffee and walked us through the “cupping” process used by coffee buyers to determine what they want to buy.

The first step of the process is to sniff the grounds to determine the “fragrance” of the beans. After that they add hot water and sniff again to determine the “aroma” of the coffee. Next you “break” the crust of coffee beans on the top of the cup and stir it to settle the grounds to the bottom, once again sniffing. All this sniffing is done with your nose pretty much shoved in the cup. The final step is to use a large spoon to scoop up some of the coffee and quickly (and loudly) slurp it up. While tasting it you are supposed to look for four qualities: brightness (acidity), flavor, body, and after taste.

After each step we would all talk about what we had smelled/tasted and what we thought of it. It reminded me of a wine tasting class we did at a local wine shop once. It was definitely interesting to learn more about the finer points of coffee and hear everyone’s interpretation of the different coffees. The best part was the tour though, but then I love that sort of stuff.

The facility was surprisingly small. It pretty much consisted of the “training center” which was a good sized room full of various coffee gadgets and machines, a small hall with a few offices, and then the roasting area and warehouse. I assume there was another warehouse for their outgoing stock that we didn’t tour, but that would have been boring anyway. The tour really only had two stops, the first being the warehouse that stored the bags of green coffee beans. They said they keep about 2-3 weeks worth of stock there at a time. The second stop was the roasting/packing room, which was cool to see. I loved watching the masterful coffee roasters at work, and the machines were nifty. It is cool to know how/where our coffee is roasted, and that it is shipped out the same day it goes in a bag.

We hadn’t eaten and were starving, so I convinced Sean we should go to Dame’s Chicken & Waffles in downtown Durham. It is an awesome place, and I wanted to use the opportunity to take him since the chance to get him to downtown Durham is rare. Dame’s gets crazy busy at lunch, so I was kind of expecting to have a horrible time finding parking, and then have to wait for a table. It couldn’t have been more perfect though! We found a parking spot right out front, were seated immediately, and the kitchen sent our food out incredibly fast. And it was so very yummy. Sean was impressed, and I was happy he enjoyed it. That place has the best mac & cheese ever, and their chicken is simply delicious. The waffles are merely good, but everything else they serve more than makes up for it.

I am grateful to have had the week off to spend with Sean, and it has been a good week even if we haven’t done anything overly exciting. I am only sad that it is coming to a close. Tomorrow we have to go pick up the turkey from Ray Farms, which is the beginning of the end. It means now we have to start focusing on cleaning up the house, shopping, and all the other preparations that go into hosting Thanksgiving. And then, once Thanksgiving is done, we will be focused on cleaning up again and then it will be time to go back to work before we know it.

So Cold…

I am freezing. It is 51 degrees outside and the a/c is on. Why? Because this old building sucks. If I haven’t already explained this, my office is in the American Tobacco Campus. The building we are in started out as the power plant for the complex. It isn’t the original power plant that was built in the 1800’s, but the “new” one that was built in the 1930’s. Which means this is a poorly insulated building made of concrete and brick, with drafty windows and skylights. In addition to that, the old coal furnace is still in the building (it’s a feature!). This means there is a large open area that is unheated. The building has been retrofitted (of course) to have offices and such. Whoever did the heating/cooling design for this place needs to rethink their chosen profession. The offices are all either incredibly warm or freezing cold. Making it so our execs don’t roast means the rest of us freeze for the most part. Ugh. As you walk around the building you end up randomly blasted by cold or hot air, and there is a constant (and loud) sound of air pushing through the ducts. There is no good compromise and I would rather be cold than hot so I am not complaining. Much. Out loud anyway.

Thanksgiving, We’re Getting Ready

I can’t believe it is almost November already. Thanksgiving is trying to sneak up on us again, but we are trying to keep on top of it this year. We are starting to form plans!

Last night Sean ordered a turkey from a local farm. Sean is excited about getting a bird from Ray Farm, which we visited a couple years ago. The turkeys are damned expensive in my opinion, but I am willing to try it. Who knows, maybe free range turkeys that have only been dead/frozen for three days before we get it will be tastier than our usual Fresh Market bird.

Sean also wants to smoke a turkey. He has been talking about this for the past couple years now. Since the farm raised bird will probably be small, we are going to buy a small bird from Fresh Market as well so that he can try his hand at smoking a turkey. So there should definitely be plenty of meat!

Every year I try to balance good food and stress levels by ordering what I can pre-made, and then letting guests bring dishes as well. I normally just order a few things like stuffing, gravy, and mashed potatoes from Fresh Market. This year I have decided to also order some stuff from La Farm Bakery. Last year Sean spotted their Turkey [shaped] Bread and really wanted it, but we didn’t get around to ordering it in time. This year I have given him a list of things to order from La Farm so we don’t miss out… yeasted rolls, turkey bread, and a couple desserts.

Right now the Thanksgiving meal plan is:

Main:
– Roasted turkey (Ray Farms)
– Smoked turkey (Fresh Market)
– cranberry sauce (both home made and canned)
– stuffing (probably home made)
– gravy (made by Fresh Market)

Desserts:
– bread/rolls (La Farm Bakery)
– Pumpkin tart (La Farm Bakery)
– Pecan tart (La Farm Bakery)
– home made lemon pie

Haven’t made it so far as to think about sides yet. I am sure potatoes and/or sweet potatoes will be involved, but at this point I am waiting to see what others will be bringing. I will have to explore some recipes as well, see if I can find some easily made (yet tasty and healthy) sides.

Vacation = Mini & Dentist

Yesterday I took my first vacation day at work. What awesome things did I do, you ask? I took my car for service and went to the dentist for a crown and two fillings.

My car was telling me service was due in 800 miles, so I made an appointment. While I was there I told them about a minor oil leak on the right side of the engine. I also told them to check my brakes, since I saw a groove in one of the rotors… to which I was told my Mini was calling for front brakes, and they were just going to replace those while they had it. Turns out my standard maintenance plan not only covers oil changes, but brakes and wipers and such too. So that was cool and unexpected. Sean was a little disappointed though I think, because when we saw the grooves he was having visions of installing fancy new rotors and ceramic brake pads.

After sitting at Mini for an hour or so they came out and said, “We’re going to keep your car and give you a loaner.” The oil leak was caused by a “cylanoid” (which I took to mean solenoid) although they didn’t tell me which… I am assuming the oil pump but I wasn’t in a question asking mood. They fixed me up with a Countryman S and sent me on my way. At least Mini usually is good about loaners like that, but I am wondering exactly how long past the warranty period I want to keep it!

After killing some time at Triangle Town I headed over to my new dentist, located at Six Forks & Sawmill. If anyone is shopping for a new dentist, I think I like this one. Although I sorta feel like a kid when I am there because they keep over-explaining things as though they think I am scared of them, and are constantly telling me what a good job I am doing. This is the first dentist (or doctor of any kind) that has ever called me personally, let alone called me before my initial appointment to welcome me to the practice and see if I had questions. And then after the first visit they sent me a hand-written card.

When I got there yesterday I had to wait a little bit, which isn’t unusual. But once they got me in the chair things went really fast. Old dentists always seemed to plop me in the chair, make me wait, then come shoot me up with Novocain, make me wait, come back see if I needed more, then make me wait… I assume they were juggling multiple patients. But this one listened to me when I said I usually needed extra Novocain, gave me the shots and stayed in the room and started a few minutes later when the numbing started to take effect. I was also happy that she didn’t wedge one of those things between my teeth to keep my mouth open, which always kills my jaw. It went really well, and I was out of the office in under two hours. Plus, they provided sunglasses to help with the light and gave me a smoothie on the way out the door.

This is my forth crown (although only the second currently in my mouth) and it was the best experience so far. Today I have a sore gum and a sensitive (to hot/cold) area around the temporary crown, but it is much less painful than some other dental trips. The first was actually a silver “cap” that was on a baby tooth… that one sucked because the dentist basically made me shove it on my self by biting, and it hurt quite a bit as it burrowed into my gum. The other two crowns were for the adult version of the same molar, the first crown broke so I am on the second one there. With the first one though, the dentist trimmed the gum around it which was super painful after the numbness wore off. The last crown wasn’t bad at all, but it was just a replacement so it doesn’t count really.