Category Archives: Life in General

Changes

I had originally given notice that my last day would be June 1, but decided to leave a day early. All my work was done and I was ready to move on. There are definitely some things I will miss, but I look forward to my new job. I am both eager for Monday to come, and a bit nervous. It will be a bit strange, going back to work at the American Tobacco Campus. A little like taking a step back in time.

When I got home though, my happy state was a bit damaged… I dropped my phone in the garage, shattering the back. Hopefully it isn’t an ill omen. I am grateful it was just the back, and not the front! That means a $29 fix versus $250. So tomorrow I will be heading to the Genius Bar for a replacement back plate, instead of sleeping in and relaxing. It is super easy to replace the back, but it voids the warranty. I am hoping that if Apple does it, the warranty will remain intact.

There isn’t much else to report really. I have just been keeping busy with my usual stuff. My store of canned goods is growing rapidly, and I will soon have to come up with a new storage plan for it. I am thinking guest room closet, or under the bed like my great-grandma use to do. Our tomato plants are getting large, and there are even a few tiny, green tomatoes on some of them. I will have to take photos soon! I am afraid to be hopeful about them, but maybe we can succeed in growing at least a couple tomatoes. Our herbs also seem to be doing well and our shishito pepper plants seem to be trying to produce some blossoms, but the plants are not very large.

Work, Tomatoes, Stuff

The past couple weeks have been pretty eventful. Our anniversary is May 3 (4 years now) so we both took the day off of work to spend it with each other, and made reservations for dinner at Ruth’s Chris. It was great to take a much needed day off of work, and even better that I got to spend it with Sean.

We spent the day being fairly lazy in the morning, then going shopping. So not only did I get to spend what should have been just another Thursday with my husband, but I got to spend it shopping with my husband. He hates shopping, so it was great that he put up with it for me without complaint.

It was time to get our rings cleaned and inspected at Jared, and it seemed pretty anniversary-appropriate, so that was our first stop. Sean surprised me by getting me a Pandora bracelet and necklace while we were there! I am in love with my bracelet, and keep nagging him for more charms.

The next day (Friday, May 4) I learned of a job opening that peaked my interest. I have really wanted to get back to a start-up environment, and this position seemed perfect. The current phase of the project that I am working on is coming to an end, the next phase due to start May 29. I have been saying that I would stay to see it through until then… so the timing was pretty much perfect as well. I immediately got to work updating my resume.

Then, on Saturday (May 5) we went to CompUSA to get some new speakers (mine died) and some replacements for Sean’s ailing case fans. Sean spotted a liquid cooling thingie and got all excited, but was going to go with the cheaper fans… until I encouraged him to get what he really wanted. Mistake! It failed within 24 hours and took his CPU with it. The CPU I just bought him for Christmas! Needless to say Sean was in a foul mood the rest of the weekend. Although his mood did improve once I gave him permission to order a new (and better) CPU as well as some RAM.

Monday (May 7) I heard that the company was interested in talking to me, and set up a phone screening for the next day. The screening went really well and I was invited out for an interview Thursday morning.

Wednesday (May 8) saw the arrival of Sean’s new CPU, which worked without issue… proving we were correct about his other CPU being fried. In the end he was super happy with his new and improved system. I keep teasing him that it was his plan all along to fry the chip so that he could upgrade.

Thursday (May 9) morning I had my interview. Thursday afternoon they called to say they wanted to make me an offer. This meant that on Friday it was very hard to concentrate at my current job, so I was very grateful it was the last day of testing and all my work was done.

Saturday Mom came up for Mother’s Day. We went for massages, followed by manicures and pedicures. I was totally unimpressed with the nail salon we went to… but she still seemed to have a good day. For dinner we took her to Hayashi for sushi to top the day off.

Sunday Mom & I went shopping. We got her a new iPhone 4S as a joint gift from Tressa & us, then wandered around the mall in a vain attempt to find her a new purse before heading out to the farmers market. While walking into the farmers market I was briefly excited to see a box of canning tomatoes, but they looked terrible.
My disappointment grew from there… there were no strawberries left, the carrot cake lady was already gone, and half the stalls were closed early. On my way out I stopped by the place with the canning tomatoes again and managed to strike a deal. They let me pick and choose and make up my own box of tomatoes… and only charged me $9. First tomatoes of the year! They are green house tomatoes, but that’s okay.

We got home just in time. Sean’s mom was already there, and he was starting to cook dinner. He grilled some great steaks for us and we had a nice dinner with the moms.

Monday (May 14) I got my offer letter and put in my notice. Everything became official, and I struggled to stay focused the rest of the day. Then I made my first batch of salsa when I got home!

Right now everything is good. Let’s hope it stays that way!

Comments are fixed…

I don’t know what was up with the comments not working, but I re-published the site and it seems to have fixed it.

I would apologize for not posting since November, but what’s the point? I keep saying I will post more, but never do. It makes me wonder if there is even much point in finding a new host for this site once Apple drops it in July! Or maybe I should just drop this iWeb thing and just use some free web-based blog like Tumblr or Weebly, since I could then post from anywhere. If only Apple would make this work on the iPad/iPhone like the iWork suite…

There, as usual, isn’t much to report. Our holidays were good, especially since my sister was able to come for Thanksgiving. As an early Christmas present, my mother and sister gave us that crazy expensive coffee grinder we were drooling over… so that was pretty awesome. If we didn’t already go through enough coffee, we now seem to average at least pound a week since getting that grinder. Not including espresso! We have also moved to yet another new level of coffee snobbery, as we have both started using a french press at work. Unfortunately they changed the coffee maker at my office and now work-coffee is no longer drinkable. Our most favoritist coffee at the moment is Counter Culture’s Baroida. If you see this one, you must try it!

Why is there a flower pic in the middle of winter? I didn’t have much else to use as the photo and I have managed to keep my (pictured) orchid alive at work for nearly a month now. It is even blooming! I am impressed with this, as previous attempts at office plants have typically failed swiftly. Now I am trying to remember if I watered it before leaving work Friday.

Happy Holidays!

Yeah, yeah, I know I am a little late on wishing everyone happy holidays. Maybe at this point I should just say “Happy New Year!” instead.

Sorry for the silence, can’t believe I haven’t written anything since October. I kept meaning to, but life was pretty busy and strange for a while and then there just wasn’t much to write about after everything settled down.

So, to recap the past couple months…

A couple weeks after my last post I was laid off, and have been unemployed since. It hasn’t really felt like it has been that long though. My official last day was November 15, but I had planned to take that time off anyway so at first it pretty much just felt like vacation. And a much needed vacation at that. I hadn’t taken any real time off from work since our honeymoon, just a few days here and there.

Sean had a gastric bypass November 17, which is why I had already planned to take that time off. He was in the hospital for a few days, coming home November 20. The surgery went well and I think he has been happy with the results, although it has been a big lifestyle change and he is still adjusting.

November 20 also happened to be the day of a Ben Folds concert we had tickets for in Charlotte, but since Sean obviously couldn’t go I took my mother. I felt a little guilty about leaving him alone on his first night home, but he assured me it would be fine. Plus his mother was with him for a few hours.

The concert was great, but we had to leave early because my mother fainted. Her blood pressure was low and she hadn’t really eaten that day. Those factors combined with a warm room and standing up for hours resulted in a fainting spell. Just to be safe she opted to go to the hospital there in Charlotte, so we got to spend the night in the emergency department and didn’t get back home until 6am. She stayed with us a couple more days just so she could be sure she was okay to drive, then headed home.

By this point it was the week of Thanksgiving. Of course, Sean couldn’t really eat then; he was still on a liquid diet. Because of this we just had a friend over for a small turkey dinner, nothing special. I really just wanted some home-cooked turkey and cranberry sauce. The friend had to work on Thanksgiving, so we did it a couple days early… then on Thanksgiving Day we went out to eat with Sean’s family at Cracker Barrel. I must say it was the most stress-free Thanksgiving we have had in years.

See what I mean by things being busy and strange for the first couple weeks of unemployment? Those first few weeks were gone before I knew it, and with Sean being home as well it really did feel more like a vacation.

Finally at the end of November I got my last checks from Mo, and was officially done with them. At this point I was able to file for unemployment. Can you believe they still haven’t processed it a month later?? Well, I guess it isn’t too hard to believe. I bet they are very busy right now. By the time I get my unemployment backpay I will have started a new job!

Christmas was pretty good this year. Surprisingly good actually. I say “surprisingly” because neither one of us had much Christmas spirit, we didn’t even get a tree or decorate this year. Money was tight for everyone, and we were being cautious since I didn’t have any job prospects until just before Christmas. On top of all that, my Grandfather was sick this year and he is the one that normally organizes our family gathering. So my family just did a small get together with the local people back home.

We ended up just doing a few small things with Sean’s family. Having dinner with a different family members on the 23rd and 24th, then cooking lunch for everyone and doing a small gift exchange on the 25th. It wasn’t anything big, but it was still nice.

All of the gifts we acquired are things we can both enjoy. There were parts for the Mini, new Staub pots, a new Shun knife, a second TiVo, and an awesome espresso machine. Some will obviously be used/enjoyed more by one than the other, but I think we can both appreciate each gift and that makes it better. The best parts were spending time with family though. I loved having a four day weekend with Sean, and miss him now that his break is over.

Soon I will be starting a new job. It isn’t really what I was looking for salary-wise, but it is better than unemployment (assuming they ever pay me!) and it will allow me to learn new skills that will help me find a better job later on. I look forward to it, but I know it will be a lot of new things to learn.

I hope everyone had an excellent Christmas, and I hope that 2011 will be a great year!

Another Full Weekend – Robyn

Sorry I haven’t posted in a couple weeks. I have been trying to be better about posting, and the Mini has definitely helped with giving me things to actually talk about. I haven’t posted in the past couple weeks because we have been so busy.

It seems like we have been on the go constantly since getting the Mini on Labor Day. Probably because we have! The weekend after MiniPalooza involved me working Saturday and then going up to Hickory on Sunday to get a spare set of wheels for the Mini (Sean has autocross dreams). After Hickory we went down to Charlotte to pick up some things from Ikea that wouldn’t fit in the car the week before.

Then, this past weekend, we had yet another busy one. Saturday we got up early so that we could finally make it to the North Hills farmer market. We wanted to go out there ever since we learned Edible Earthscapes sold their produce there, but we just haven’t had time.

I was pleasantly surprised with the farmer’s market. I knew it would be small, so I hadn’t expected much out of it. Although, it looks like we might have found a new Saturday breakfast spot! There is a German baker that sells goods there, all sorts of tasty little treats that are excellent when paired with the Starbucks that is in the middle of the market. There were some nice finds, and I am looking forward to going back next Saturday when we have more time. There were plenty of people selling meat, fresh bread, eggs, goat cheese, and some other things. We ended up leaving with some curry chevre, daikon, shishito peppers, shiitake mushrooms, sweet potatoes, grits, and salsa. It feels like I must be forgetting something else because we had a full bag.

After a quick stop to drop our loot at home we headed to Brier Creek for a Mini Scavenger Hunt. There were only six Mini participants, but it was pretty fun. We were given two sheets of clues, both printed front and back. The clues spanned Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, but we only had about 2.5 hours to compete. We ended up sticking with just Raleigh, not having time to go to the other locations.

The hunt itself was pretty fun, although there were so many items listed it was hard to keep it straight. If we do this again I swear I am going to ask for two copies of the clues, and I will bring a clip board and an array of highlighters. Yes, I am a nerd. Anyhow, the way it worked was that you had to take a photo of a location or bring some items back, the majority of the items being photos. Sorting out which things required a photo with the Mini, a team member, both team members, or the Mini and the team members was another challenge.

The part that wasn’t as fun was the tallying up of the scores. As I mentioned, there were a lot of clues. And while there were only six teams, it took forever to go through it all. At least it went a little faster once the host pulled out her laptop and just searched for the points rather than skimming the list. But, as it was, we spent over an hour just standing in the parking lot waiting. In the end we came in third place and won some organizational items for the car. Not bad for first timers, I think.

We were pretty wiped out after about 8 hours on the go, but there is no rest for the weary! Sean had found a chili recipe in one of our new cast iron cookbooks, and we wanted to try it out. This required grocery shopping. So, after tooling around the house for a bit, we moved our usual Sunday shopping trip up a day and headed to Meat House in Cary. It was 6pm before we got there, and we were starving after having only eaten a bit of German pastry breakfast and a hasty McDonald’s lunch on the go. Oh, that is another thing to bring for the next scavenger hunt: food!

When we arrived at Meat House, we found that a pizza place had just opened next to it. They were handing out menus at the door, trying to drum up some business. They seemed like friendly people, but we had shopping to do. While we were waiting for our 4lb chuck roast to be cut into cubes (I love you, Meat House!) we contemplated the pizza place next door. Our stomachs won out.

We went next door and told them we wanted to eat there, but we had a bag full of meat. They were happy to put it in the cooler for us, so it all worked out. If you are in Cary, give Marilyn’s Pizza a try. They have lots of dough, sauce, and topping options. Even gluten free! They seem like a nice little shop, and we will be glad to give them some more business when we are in the area.

So, all this lead to us not starting the chili until about 8pm. The chili takes 2 hours, not counting prep time. This means we didn’t get to sample it until about 10:30. By this point we were both exhausted from a long day, but we still had to wait for the chili to cool enough to stash it in the fridge. By the time we got to bed, I was bone tired and I think I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow!

The chili was worth it though! We ate it the rest of the weekend and Sean even took it to work a few days. If anyone wants a recipe for some great chili that doesn’t include tomatoes, let me know. It is spicy though!

Weekend Adventures

We had quite the full weekend! It started out with us rushing around Friday night to pack, clean the Mini, get Jack to Cary, and get Eddie to Fuquay. We didn’t get to bed until after midnight, which sucked because we had to get up at 6am.

Saturday we still had a couple things to do before we left town, like getting breakfast and some cash for the lunch. We also made a quick unplanned Wal-Mart stop for some glass cleaner after discovering how much the glass wipes we used the night before sucked. So, all of these little last minute things resulted in us not getting to Old Salem Tavern (in Winston Salem) until about 9:32.

The website for the Minipalooza had said to meet at the tavern and the group would be leaving promptly at 10:00. However, the night before we saw an update that said 9:30. Therefore we arrived thinking we would probably get there just as they were pulling out. But there was only one Mini to be found!

This Mini driver was glad to see us, as she didn’t know the route and was beginning to think she had the date wrong. We were equally glad to see her because we were wondering where the hell all the Minis were. Later in the day we met up with some other Mini drivers in Old Salem who said they had the same confusion, but eventually found all the other cars at the Visitor’s Center.

Apparently there were so many cars that they had to move to the Visitor’s Center because there simply wasn’t enough room in the street. And today we heard that they actually left even earlier, around 9:15. Needless to say we are left a little disappointed in the level of organization/communication. It was a good thing we had all way points programmed in the GPS!

The lone Mini driver followed us along the route, we had our own Mini Minipalooza. It actually was probably a bit more fun that way. There were lots of reports of confusion from other drivers, and apparently plenty of people went off-course. There were also people that were unhappy with how fast their leader was going. Since we were the lead car of our little pair we were able to set the speed and only had to worry about one other car.

For us, things worked out great. Sean drove while I navigated and kept our Mini-friend updated via walky-talky. I wish I had a paper map, it probably would have been easier. As it was, Sean had programmed way points into our Nuvi and printed a list of which order they came in. I had no clue where we were going, I just had to get close to the end point and program in the next one. It was an adventure!

And the mini has so much road, engine, and a/c noise that it is hard for the driver to hear the GPS… so we kept joking that I was like the Sci Fi show character that only repeated what the computer said. My acting as navigator let Sean concentrate on having fun driving the twisty roads while I concentrated on where we were going. I was also able to warn him of the sharper curves. It went well and we only made one wrong turn, but it was easy to correct even though the GPS tried to invent some roads. That is pretty good for travelling unfamiliar back roads! The course was great, and I am looking forward to going back and driving it myself later on. Navigating was fun, but there were some awesome curves along Hwy 8 that I am itching to try.

It was about 1:00 when we arrived at the vineyards. We exchanged $20 for commemorative wine glasses and tickets for food/wine. They had pulled pork, baked beans, and slaw served with a bun to make a sandwich if desired. The wine ticket was good for a glass of wine or a tasting. We opted for the tasting and decided we aren’t really fans of Westbend Vineyards’ wine. The BBQ was good though, and seeing all the Minis was great. There are so many great ways to customize a Mini, it once again made me want a Mini of my own… but I love my Rav4 too much.

Unfortunately, that was the end of our Mini event. Sunday we were supposed to go to Flow Mini for breakfast and then head to VIR, but it was canceled. There was no explanation given, but I assume it was due to weather.  In all Saturday was fun, and I am looking forward to the next Mini rally event. There is one coming up next month, but I am not sure if we will be able to go.

But our weekend adventures were not over yet! Saturday evening we were left with some time to kill so we checked into the Augustus Zevely Inn (aka Augustus Zevely B&B) early and then wandered around Old Salem a bit. By 5:00 I was exhausted. A stop at our room to drop off purchases and have a little of the wine and cheese offered by the B&B turned into a short nap before dinner. We had 6:00 reservations at the Old Salem Tavern, which was conveniently located across the street.

The Old Salem Tavern was great! If you ever go to Old Salem I highly recommend both the Zevely Inn and Old Salem Tavern. The Inn was our first B&B experience, and I doubt we could have asked for better. Even though noises from the hall were easily heard in our room, it was still very quiet and peaceful. The Innkeeper was pleasant, and the breakfast was great.

After breakfast, we packed the car and hit the road headed for Ikea. Along the way Sean spotted a Beef Jerky Outlet sign and got so excited I just had to stop for him. The outlet is near Concord Mills, and was pretty neat if you like jerky and hot sauce. I am not a huge fan of either though, so it was mostly just for Sean. Many samples of jerky later we were back on the road to Ikea.

Ikea is always fun! For some reason every time I go there I find myself wanting to decorate a house, build a kitchen from scratch, and/or completely reorganize something. We picked up a few items and a few ideas from Ikea, then headed towards Burlington. We might be back at Ikea soon with the Rav4. :)

The reason I wanted to stop in Burlington was the Le Creuset Outlet. I have never been to one of their stores; I’ve always purchased from Williams Sonoma or Southern Season, and a seconds braiser from Home Goods. Going to a Le Creuset store was both fun and torture. I wanted so many pots, but I had to choose just one. Sean was willing to let me get a second, which made getting just one even harder. Their pots are simply too expensive to purchase more than one on a whim! After some deliberation, I ended up with a cobalt blue wok, a ceramic gratin dish, a metal knob, a silicone pot handle cover, some cleaner, and two cookbooks. Happy!!

I look forward to trying all the new recipes we are going to make. We used the wok to stir fry some asparagus and garlic for a side with dinner tonight. I was very happy with it. Definitely the best wok I have ever owned!

Updates

Thought I would take a moment to write some updates on previous topics, and let you know how things are going. There really isn’t much new going on. For a little over a week now I have been pretty sick, but I am feeling better now for the most part. If you care for the whole tale of my illness I will give it after the short updates.

Garden –
Our container garden seems to be going mostly well, and our roses are also in bloom. The one exception to the “going well” would be our bok choy. I knew we had it too close when planting it, but thought we could always move it later on. For a while it was thriving, but was bunched pretty tightly. Well, the caterpillars got to it before we could move it. They have pretty much destroyed all but two plants, and those are riddled with holes. I hope I feel up to pulling them out of the planter tomorrow. We will try to save the last two, but I don’t hold much hope. Everything else seems to be going well for now though! And I am excited to see how well the roses we planted last year are doing. The Joseph’s coat is full of flowers, and the knockouts are starting to catch up. I am also surprised at how large the plants around our front walk have gotten. Next weekend I will have plenty of work to do I think!

iPad –
It is still a fun gadget, although I am still not happy with it as an e-reader. At least, not completely happy. It is great for reading in the dark. That part I really like. And it is an e-reader, that is good. But… I am still unhappy with the iBook app’s lack of color options and there will be no iPhone companion for it until this summer. The iBook Store also has a somewhat limited selection. The Kindle app is nice, and I love that it syncs with the iPhone app. However, Kindle book pricing isn’t as good as Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately, B&N still hasn’t released their iPad app. And the iPhone app doesn’t sync with Nook, so I am not sure that the iPad app will either. Syncing between the iPad and iPhone is a necessity in my opinion. I really hope the recently updated Nook firmware has this feature hidden in it somewhere. But my main problem? I can’t read in the sun. Or, at least not easily. There is too much reflection, and the screen gets washed out. Plus, while trying to read in the car on a sunny day the darned thing over heated. Who ever expects to see a temperature warning on an iPad?? So reading in the car is pretty much out. Plus it is so reflective the driver could be distracted/annoyed/blinded by it. This is irritating! I like reading on the deck and I want to be able to read on car trips. And did I mention it is a bit heavy? This leaves me tempted to buy a Nook, but it has that whole inability to sync issue… which means I might have to get a Kindle.

Illness –

The saga of my illness started last Thursday, April 15. Throughout the day I had a cough that got a bit worse as the day went on, and by dinner I felt a sore throat coming on. By that night I had a full fledged sore throat. Having been around someone with strep, and having an unhappy history with bacterial throat infections (but not in years!), I decided I should probably visit the doctor before the weekend. I stayed home from work and went to the doctor, not knowing how sick I would get before it was all over.

Friday the doctor said the culture was negative for strep, but we needed to wait three days to see if it grew any bacteria. At that point my only problem was the sore throat, a cough, and the beginnings of nasal congestion. The doctor said it was probably viral, and I happily tried to believe him… although I knew it wasn’t.

By Monday the sore throat was much worse, as well as the congestion and coughing, and my voice was mostly gone. My ears also felt funny. I felt miserable, or at least I thought I did. The real misery was still a couple days off. The doctor called to say bacteria had grown, and called in a prescription for me. I took that and by the next day (Tues) my throat was already better. Although while my throat improved, my ears had progressed from funny to painful and my eyes were puffy and red. Sean told me I looked like a zombie. I made an appointment for the next morning.

At that appointment it was confirmed the infection had spread to both eyes and ears. The doctor opted for “all night bender” rather than zombie. So basically everything above my shoulders was infected at that point. I got even more drugs and was sent home to suffer. I e-mailed the bosses to say there was no way I was coming back to work before Monday.

The eye drops worked wonders and the next day (Thurs) I went from zombie to bloodshot, by Friday they were mostly clear. At that point my throat was only sore from the coughing, but my right ear was still (and is still) pretty painful. The left ear also hurts, but is overshadowed by the pain in the other.

After 9 days I am still sick, but definitely better than I was a few days ago. My voice is still hoarse, but at least I can talk without pain. My appetite is a bit better, and my eyes look pretty normal. I am also still pretty low on energy, but that is getting better too. Now, if only I can get rid of this cough and the bum ear!

Today I even ventured out of the house. It was a short outing to drop Sean’s car for an oil change, put gas in mine, eat a lunch of 5 chic-fil-a nuggets, then grab a few things at Target. The Target part was pretty tiring even though we weren’t there long, and I was hit by a coughing fit so bad my eyes were streaming and I had to go outside. Now I am back home, fighting the urge to nap. I need to get back on some sort of schedule before work on Monday.