Category Archives: Random

Vacation! Woo!

Today was the first day of vacation for me. Yay! Too bad Sean is working this week, but at least it should give me some time to work on sewing stuff. I plan on spending all my time hanging out with my little family, sewing, shopping, and doing all the usual holiday stuff.

At the moment my embroidery machine is stitching away, quilting what will become the Under the Veranda tote bag bonus project. I have so much Christmas stuff to make that I should leave this until after the holidays, but I want to use the leftover batting in some of the Christmas presents. Of course I can’t post about the Christmas presents yet, but they aren’t that exciting anyway.

My first day of vacation started out with an email letting me know I had won an internet give away for ten fat eighths of fabric, which was pretty cool. No clue what I will do with them, especially since that cut (9×22″) is a little difficult to use. Always good to add to the stash though! Then it was a morning of mommy-daughter time since the nanny/grandma had a doctors appointment. Once I was relieved of baby duty I wandered around the internets for a while looking at quilting designs before taking a little nap, and awoke to another nice email telling me I sold my first item on Etsy; someone bought “Be Still” for their daughter’s room. Not that I made any money from it, but at least it helps cover material costs. After that I ran out to do a little shopping. Not a bad day! Tomorrow will be much the same I think. Spend the morning with Anna until mom gets here, probably spend some more time with her after that, then sewing, ship a package, and shopping. That about sums it up!

Now for the Anna report. Not much has changed since my last post really, she is just trying more and more to talk. Still no real words, although I think she is starting to get that the “hey” she has been saying for months actually means something. That, or it is just because she says it all the time and we are reading too much into it when it actually aligns with an appropriate situation. For instance, Anna has been waving for a while now, but just in the past week or so it has really clicked that it means something. She has started waving at random people when we go out and saying “Hey” while she waves. At home when we see the cat or one of the dogs we will say “Hey, kitty cat” or “Hey, Eddie” while waving at them. She seems to be trying to imitate the “Eddie” and “kitty cat,” sometimes it almost really sounds like “Hey, cat” or “Hey, tit-tat” or “Hey, eh-ty.” In the past week she has also started picking things up to her ear like a phone and saying, “hey”… which she must get from watching her grandmothers because Sean and I rarely talk on the phone.

The most recent word that she seems to be trying to say though is “sit” since we are constantly telling her to sit down when she tries to stand on things she shouldn’t. Although it really sounds more like “shit” which is pretty hilarious when she is repeating over and over what sounds like “oh shit.” We of course have to be careful not to reinforce the “shit” by laughing, but it is really hard when you hear this little cherub voice saying it.

 

So Very Tired

I am tired of being exhausted all the time. And I am tired of not wanting to eat anything, and tired of feeling like poop. I must hold on to hope that this phase will only last a few more weeks, even though it is highly possible it will last until August. Trying not to think about that possibility though. Just a few more weeks… yes, just a few more weeks.

Sean has been great lately. All I want to do is sleep, and he is helping pick up some of my slack. He has gone shopping by himself, cooked, cleaned, and even did a load of laundry. I feel like a horrible wife, but I just don’t have the energy for anything. Even now all I can think about is when I can go home and lay down.

I am not sure if the fatigue is making me more or less irritated with the saga I have been dealing with on trying to get new glasses. I am definitely irritated, but too tired to care most of the time.

Let me see if I can relate the saga without going on a rant.

Dec 29 – I go to Eye Care Associates and pick out, and pay for, glasses and sunglasses, it is the end of the year and therefore crazy busy
Jan 4 – I leave for California
Jan 5 – I realize I have a voice mail from ECA, they say I need to call about my order because the color of frame I wanted was not available, they want me to call and pick another color
Jan 9? – I finally remember to call them during EST business hours; The lady doesn’t seem interested in telling me my color choices over the phone, so I tell her I will come in when I am back in town, I also find out they can’t get the sunglasses I wanted in my prescription either
Jan 12 – I get back home around midnight, this is a Saturday – they are closed on Sundays and I am too sick to go during the week because I don’t have Zofran yet
Jan 19 – I go in, pick a different color for my glasses and find a new frame they say will work for sunglasses; then they try to charge me for the sunglasses again and I have to explain that I paid for both pair when I ordered them (duh! do they ever let you order without paying?)
Jan 21 – I get a voice mail while in a meeting saying that since I had *never called them back* they went ahead and ordered the lenses for me; I had to call back twice trying to get the person for an explanation; finally a different person calls me back that afternoon. The conversation goes something like this,

ECA: “You’re regular glasses are ready to be picked up”
Me: “What type of coating did I order for those? I asked when I came in Saturday, but didn’t get an answer”
ECA: “Just the anti-reflective”
Me: “Oh, I was going to upgrade to the premium coating, but oh well”
ECA: “Would you like me to put that in?”
Me: “What would the price difference be?”
ECA: “For your inconvenience we will waive the cost, because, well… ”

And then she went on to explain that even though ECA was “90% certain” that the sunglasses would work with my prescription, Oakley didn’t think they could do it. She said they could use their own brand of lenses though, and it would work… so they are going to do that. She also offered to let me pick up the regular glasses and then just swap the lenses when the new ones came in, but I didn’t want to deal with that.

So hopefully one day I will get my new glasses, and my sunglasses. And it should be interesting to see what happens with the billing. I will be glad when I finally get my sunglasses though, I haven’t been able to wear any since June when I started wearing my glasses full time due to dry eyes. And now that I am pregnant they are even more dry, which means contacts are pretty much out for me indefinitely.

Discovered Another Spice Shop

We’re taking it easy this weekend. No canning, no smoking, no big house projects.

Today was just a laid back day. Sean had a hair cut scheduled this morning, so I got to sleep in while he went out to take care of that. When he got home we had a tasty BLT brunch using some persimmon tomatoes we grew ourselves. I know I know, I shouldn’t be eating tomatoes because it causes my rosacea to flare up… but these didn’t really seem to bother me that much. Maybe it is the lower acidity, I dunno.

I had never had a persimmon tomato before and was surprised to see the inside is different from your usual tomato. Instead of having those large seed pockets your typical red tomato has, the persimmon tomatoes were pretty meaty with lots of little seed pockets marbled through it. And they are huge! The persimmon tomatoes are more than a pound each, and one slice covered the entire piece of bread. We have a lot of tomatoes out there, so if anyone wants some please let us know. I am still amazed we succeeded in growing them. Those tiny little seedlings we planted in the spring are taller than me now! I totally underestimated how much they would grow when we planted them.

Food devoured and a few chores done, we decided it was time to head out. After stopping for a quick visit with Sean’s grandmother we headed to Cameron Village. I spotted a spice shop I had never noticed before named Penzey’s, and just had to stop in. We usually buy our spices from Savory Spice Shop in Lafayette Village, but it is a pretty long drive. Cameron Village is closer than Lafayette, so I was hoping Penzey’s would be a good alternative.

Well, it isn’t. If I need something that is hard to find, and I happen to be in Cameron Village, I would buy from them… but I just don’t like the shop. Not only is it more expensive, but it just lacks all of the appeal that Savory has. When you walk into Savory you immediately feel welcome. Savory is small and has a warm, inviting atmosphere. The moment you walk in the proprietors greet you and ask if they can help.

At Penzey’s the one cashier said nothing to us, it was too bright, too “arranged” and the classical music was too loud. I found myself speaking softly and the other customers seemed to share the feeling, as everyone seemed afraid to make any noise. It was like a spice museum. The only thing I can say for Penzey’s is that they do have a larger selection, including the sweet curry power that I was trying to find ages ago. But I don’t plan on shopping there unless I have to.

 

Things learned since last post:

  • There is a Southern Season Outlet store I had never heard of before??
  • If your soup turns out too salty, add in some cooked potato to absorb the salt
  • Persimmon tomatoes look like this inside:
Borrowed from lovesown.com

 

Stuff

We haven’t posted in a long time. Sorry. There hasn’t been much to say really, but I feel like I should post something… so here goes.

As for the MINI, I am still in love with it and am still plotting all the things I want to do with it. With the job situation though, money has been a little tight so I haven’t been able to do much yet. I did add a KP Technologies One Touch sunroof module though, which allows me to open the sunroof without holding the toggle button. I also added an NM torque arm insert, which is nice. The plan was to add a sway bar and rear end links before MINIs on the Dragon, but now with the unexpected water heater expense I am not sure that will happen.

The above picture is of the water heater spewing water. Luckily it is in the garage, so the water damage was minimal. We knew it was going to need replacing soon, but we were hoping it would make it a bit longer. Basically, the top of the unit was rusted out and the expansion tank was no longer functioning properly which, from what I gather, means there was a build up of pressure in the water heater that caused the weakened rusted area to give. Apparently you have to replace those expansion tanks about every three years. This would have been good to know a couple years ago, especially since the service guy said that tank was most likely the original one. Fortunately I was offered the chance to leave IBM a couple days early, so I was home when it happened. And it seems like I caught it before it spewed water too long. So all in all this could have been much worse. As it was, we had to remove a portion of the drywall behind it in order to pull out wet insulation. Looks like we will be doing some repair work on that this weekend. But, it was caught before water soaked through the wall and damaged our floor in the kitchen. A little insulation and a sheet of drywall is definitely not bad at all compared to the expense of repairing/replacing hardwood floors and painted interior walls.

On the job front, I will be starting at the new company tomorrow. I am excited about it! And I am so glad I am excited about it. The last years at Mo were terrible, I hadn’t realized how much I hated it really. I mean I knew I was miserable, but somehow the full extent of it didn’t really sink in. It was to the point where I considered changing career paths after I was laid off. It is part of why I dragged my feet a bit about looking for a new job. However, for this new job, as a test I was asked to write a few test cases from requirements. It was actually fun!! I realized I still really love software QA and I really miss doing actual QA work. The past couple years were this terrible downward spiral where nearly all the actual work was offshored and it was a fight to do anything meaningful. By the end it felt like I was reduced from “engineer” to “button pushing monkey.” So right now, for the first time in years, I am looking forward to going to work in the morning.

Overshadowing my happiness at starting the new job though, is the news from Japan. Luckily all my friends are safe, but I can’t comprehend the images of the devastation in northern Japan. The enormity of loss is unimaginable and it seems the news is worse every day. I keep wishing there was something I could physically do to help, but there isn’t.

The Rest of the Story

I know the last post was really short, so I thought I would elaborate. I was quite tired when I wrote that one, didn’t feel like going into the whole story.

We have been going back and forth about trading the Rav4 for another Mini for months. I really wanted one, but the rational side of me said “No, are you an idiot?” and I usually listen to the rational side.

With the introduction of the Countryman, we decided to just wait for that and see if we liked it. I also wanted to try out the Clubman. At first I didn’t like the Clubman, but after a few club meet ups it had really grown on me.

The Countryman sounds and looks great, but the driving experience just wasn’t what I was looking for. The Mini Cooper is just so fun to drive! But the Countryman… Well, it was a very nice car. If you are looking for Mini styling and a 4WD hatchback it is great. But I wasn’t looking for that, I wanted the fun. I wanted the same driving experience that had me stealing Sean’s car every chance I got.

Saturday was a long day. We were scheduled for a 10:00 test drive with the Countryman. I tried the automatic AWD version and was kind of bored. It was a nice car, it handled well, and it was pretty… but it just wasn’t clicking. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. As an afterthought (a much too late afterthought) maybe I should have tried it with a manual transmission.

Next up I asked to try an automatic Clubman S. They didn’t have a demo automatic S, so they put me in the regular Cooper without a turbo. As soon as I pulled off the lot I said “no way” and just made a loop and parked it. It was terrible without the turbo! I don’t know why they couldn’t just let me have an S right away. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t accustomed to my Rav4’s v6 and the Cooper’s turbo.

Next they gave me an automatic Clubman S to try off the lot. It was Chili Red. I liked it, but didn’t really want red so I ended up finding an Eclipse (dark) Gray one on the lot that had some nice options and I really thought it was the one I was going to buy. We sat down to talk numbers on it and everything. But I just wasn’t sure… and I was starving because we hadn’t eaten all day and it was past lunch time. So they gave us a 96-hour pass and we left them to run credit and such while we went to the mall to eat and then drove around a bit more.

I just wasn’t 100% on it. I drove around for about 30 minutes trying to figure out why I didn’t love it as completely as I should have. At first I thought I really liked the dark color, but I began to realize that it just wasn’t a “happy” look that I associate with a Mini. Plus it is a short car and I was afraid it would be invisible to other drivers. My dark green Rav4 was much larger and people were constantly trying to pull out in front of me or switch into my lane like I wasn’t there. And I mean more so than usual for the idiot drivers around here.

I also wasn’t really digging the steptronic automatic transmission, although I didn’t realize how much I disliked it at the time. I was thinking that it was just a little slower, but it was okay… I would get use to it. But Sean saw me waffling and suggested I try a manual. So, back to Flow Mini we went.

I parked the Gray and started looking around to see what they had on the lot that would be in the running with a manual transmission. There weren’t many options really, but I managed to find a few. Our salesman was busy, but one of the managers we were working with spotted us and we told him what we were thinking. He brought the key for a Laser Blue Clubman, and we hopped in.

Immediately I could tell the clutch was different from the 2010. I think I stalled it twice in the fifty feet it took to leave the lot, but then I figured it out and was off. I don’t have much experience with manuals! The Cooper is the first one I had to drive since I learned in a few family-directed driving lessons 15 years ago. But once I got it going I knew I had found what was wrong with the others. The transmission! We hadn’t even made it a block before I told Sean he was right, the manual was the way to go.

I can’t believe I actually bought a manual car. I have never owned one before, always preferring the simplicity of an automatic and never caring about the so-called advantages of a manual transmission. But I think the Mini is just meant to be a manual car. It is probably why they don’t stock many automatics! Or maybe Sean is right and anything less than a v6 should be manual.

After driving the blue one around for a few minutes (it barely had any gas) I returned and said I wanted a manual, I just had to figure out which one. I really wanted to order one with the exact features I wanted, but I would have had to wait 60 days and I knew there would be no chance of making a deal on it like I could with the ones on the lot. I ended up choosing the Laser Blue one that I had tested out, even though at first I didn’t want such a common color. I am really loving the color now though, so I am happy I chose it.

By this point it was pretty late in the day, and we still had to deal with the haggling and paperwork. I know they always try to make you feel like you got a good deal, but I feel like I earned it this time around. They wanted a lot more down and a lot more per month than what we ended up agreeing to. I had to tell him a firm “No” a couple times and both times it earned what I wanted. It helped that I really was willing to walk away.

It was nearly dark by the time we got home… a long long day of car shopping when we thought it would be a couple hours that probably wouldn’t even end with a purchase. Not to mention most of it was spent in the freezing cold, complete with intermittent snow and wind.

I have owned it for a few days now and am still really happy with it! Today I went back to Flow to pick up a cargo area liner so the dogs don’t mess it up too badly, and while I was there I picked up some Union Jack valve stem caps for the tires. And when I got home I removed the annoying rings around the rear headrests that didn’t allow them to lower fully. It is a safety feature I suppose, but I think being able to see out my rear windows is safer! So I guess you can say I have already made my first small modifications. :)