Monday, March 31, 2014

Beat the Monday Blahs

Last Monday I came across a pretty awesome list at The Golden Girl Blog.   (She's the one who had the fantastic idea to try 12 new things this year instead of making official resolutions.)

So, because we got FIVE INCHES of snow on Saturday, my Sunday run was interrupted by an infinite number of puddles, and we're moving in less than a week {with hiccups I may address later but don't feel like typing now!}, I invite you to check out Seven Simple Tips to improve your Monday.

Do I sound crabby?   I might be a little bit ;) but the list is truly worth checking out, and I'd send you there anyway.   I'm loving the suggestions* because they start the week off on a high note and are all very do-able.   Easy + Monday = Happy Jules

Happy Monday, friends!  

*Personally I think the Crock Pot idea is fabulous and once I unpack mine, I just might make it a habit!

Friday, March 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Week ending March 28


This past weekend we saw Muppets Most Wanted and it was quite enjoyable.   I might have even liked it more than the previous movie-- you know, the one with Seth Rogan.  Part of that may be due to the fact that I saw it with my 2 youngest cousins, which helped me channel my kid-at-heart self that much more than usual!   Sadly, there was not enough Pepe in the film.  That is my only complaint.

Auntie invited me to attend a sports memorabilia show this weekend and I am totally going.   Major nerd alert.  The chances of me buying anything are slim to none, but it's so fun to see what is out there.  These shows are almost like interactive museums, where if you have enough money, you can literally cash in on history.   I'm mostly there for baseball but I appreciate it all.  We'll also be meeting with Erica to finalize our ticket schedule - YAY BASEBALL

Speaking of my favorite sport, Opening Day is Monday night in Oakland [which is bad for my east coast bedtime], and the home opener, which we are attending {!!!}, is in one week - Friday April 4.   Mother Nature is traditionally not a fan of warmth on such celebratory occasions, but I have already begun to consider clothing options to avoid freezing to death.   Many of them will likely come from my Favorite Winter items, despite the fact that it is spring and this is an Indians game, not a mid-season Browns game.  

Facebook usually leaves me with mixed feelings, and I rarely post on people's status messages that ask for advice or opinions, but I could not resist on Wednesday.  An AU choir buddy asked about FitBit.  As you may recall I LOVE FitBit, and said so on her wall.  We have since become FitBit friends.  I think that means we can see each other's stats, but am not sure.  

Anyway - during the discussion I also used an emoji of a bicycle, prompting one of her friends [who I don't know] to say Julia, your iconography certainly marks you as a prophet of my religion.  What is this magic?  I was highly amused and am thinking I should perhaps comment on more Facebook posts!

Moving day fast approaches, and we have been in touch with the management company, reminding us of tasks to complete before we get our keys.   This list cracks me up.

Needed by lease signing date:
Utility account numbers
Proof of Renter’s Insurance
Pet Photos

Yes, a photo of my cat is a requirement!   Maybe it's to confirm we have a cat and not a St. Bernard.  I don't think they really care about his name or appearance.  For the record, that was the easiest item to check off the list.

Anyone else watching The Cosmos on Sunday nights?   I admit to teasing Michael about it during the first episode, but I now find myself watching along side of him.   It explains difficult concepts very well, and the guy who narrates is almost as cool as Morgan Freeman.   Almost.

If you need a weekend project, here's a suggestion.   My guess is I won't tackle this immediately, but gosh, do I need to.   I try to be organized in my daily life but sometimes I suffer electronically.    This is a great presentation and it uses Mac OS X so I am on board!

Jen's got lots of Quick Takes too!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Week ending March 21

Baseball is just around the corner!   Last Saturday we started dividing up our 1/2 season ticket pack among the three main participants and it was so exciting.   Who needs Christmas presents?  Give me baseball games any day.

On a whim Michael and I went furniture shopping last Saturday afternoon.   We never have had a bed [just the frame from the mattress store] and our IKEA dressers that we built in 2005 were not going to make it through another move.   So our mattresses are in storage but we have no drawers in which to put things.   I sense an organizational nightmare, don't you?   Well, turns out furniture shopping is annoying because these places always have sales and say things like "the prices are listed here but we can do better"  Ugh.   Please just tell me the price so I know if I can afford it or not.   Relatedly, real furniture [yay Ohio Amish country!] is expensive, y'all!

Have you had the new Vanilla Macchiato at Starbucks?  Oh My Gosh.   So, we have an automatic espresso/latte machine at home.   I know, how high maintenance can you get?  Well, Michael kept going out and buying lattes [don't get me wrong I was not complaining] and it's just more cost effective, ultimately, to have your own machine.  The upside of course is not spending money at Starbucks every day.   The downside is you may be missing out on some tasty treats.  Now, when we were at the auto show and test drove a car, we each got a $5 Starbucks gift card.  So while out looking at furniture, we took a FREE coffee break.   Oh goodness.   I must obtain the drizzle so we can re-create this heaven at home.

This weekend we have plans to head downtown to the Horseshoe Casino in the old Higbee building, to see what the fuss is all about.    When we go to Vegas we are not huge gamblers, but it sure is entertaining.   Michael Symon's B Spot is also at the food court so I anticipate eating some deliciousness as we lose our money.

Mario is participating in a local Dancing With the Stars charity event - he's the star!  He was a bit nervous after practice Thursday but I'm sure he'll be great.  Dance lessons are on our list of things to do... aside from learning 1 dance for our wedding, I am clueless.  

Seems like we have uninvited house guests.   Sunday morning when I fed Oliver, both he and I heard some unsanctioned activity in the pantry.  Something was in there moving around.   Just what you want to hear on a weekend morning, right?   We also heard activity in the CEILING Thursday morning.  Well, due to past issues, my parents have scheduled maintenance with a pest control company.   The guy came out as usual this week, and spent a great deal of time looking for signs of pests and did not find much.  So frustrating.  He put out some bait in various places, but I fear our guests will be here until the bait does its thing [aka kills the rascal]

I'm pretty pumped [as usual] for March Madness!  This year American University made it in the first round, but being up against Wisconsin they didn't stand a chance.   I watched them during lunch on Thursday and things were looking good [well, at least decent] in the first half but then all hell broke loose.   No one really thought they'd win, and to make it to the Big Dance is so cool for a lot of the smaller schools.   I see many more games in my future this weekend and next, for sure!

Don't forget Jen's takes!

Friday, March 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Week ending March 14

Each and every weekday morning I eat the same breakfast: berries [rasp-, black-, and/or straw-], Chobani yogurt and a sprinkling of Kashi GoLean Crunch.   This week Michael decided he wanted to taste the Kashi plain.   I advised against it, but he didn't listen.  After making a face he declared "This is what they give to the horses.  It's what is left over after they make Captain Crunch!"   I guess he won't be stealing my breakfast any time soon

Saturday morning, Michael decided, on a whim, that we needed to check out the newly renovated Cleveland Museum of Art and eat some place delicious while we were out there.  Well, turns out he is pretty smart.   The museum is gorgeous.  I mean the building and layout, not the art itself.  Whoa.   I am not the best art museum wanderer, but we spent a little time soaking it in and using ArtLens, a super cool George Jetson type app for the iPad or smartphone that gives you oodles of info about art.  The painting scans are cooler than the sculputure scans, but two thumbs up all around.  And the best part?  It you don't have a device, you can rent one!

As far as the delicious food, Fire did not disappoint.   In fact we learned that the chef is up for a James Beard award!  I can certainly see why.  The salad we shared ended up being a wedge {which I traditionally despise} but they split it and it was scrumptious.   The other appetizer was a sausage stuffed into a PEPPER!  Oh my goodness.   It was so Cleveland and so amazing and exactly what we needed on a chilly evening.  We decided to order 2 separate entrees [after I pouted that Michael almost ordered the same thing as me] which was genius because the entree we both almost ordered was not as tasty to me :)  And DESSERT?!  Everyone should order the Fire Split [fudgey brownie, salted caramel ice cream and brûléed banana]

This weekend we will be cultured in the dramatic department.  We're seeing DeathTrap at Great Lakes Theater and of course, dining at someplace yummy.   I could get used to this.   I also have a hair appointment at a new salon today, so I will have a night out with good hair! 

We hosted Marilyn overnight this week.   It's pretty cool when your former music teacher, who has become a family friend, can stay the night.   As you might expect, delicious food and wine was involved, and she even indulged Michael by playing ridiculous accompaniments for his singing.

At the risk of sounding like an old person, the weather is killing me.  I ran - OUTSIDE! in a T SHIRT! on Tuesday and then less than 24 hours later, we were slammed with snow.   So frustrating.  Can I tell you how strange it felt to run without sleeves or long pants?  And by strange I mean wonderful.

And finally, who doesn't love a good cat video?   Oliver keeps us entertained

Don't forget to check out Jen's Quick Takes

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Favorite Things: Winter Edition

In honor of the March blizzard we are expected to get tomorrow [six to ten inches?!] I have complied a list of my favorite winter items.  I truly hope this is the last time we will need to think about any of these winter necessities, but Ohio will likely stick it to us again before spring sticks around for good.

Sorel boots

Full disclosure: Since they were delivered, it has not really been snowy enough to warrant wearing these!   I will probably get to try them out for real this week to, you know, get the mail.   Or to participate in the Iditarod.   Either way.

SmartWool Liner Gloves

Not only do they act like regular gloves and keep your hands warm but they allow you to use your phone [and other tech devices] too!  Nothing is sadder than removing your gloves to answer your phone or to change a song on your iPod while you are outside.  Part of me wants to buy about 10 more pair - all winter stuff is on sale now anyway - and stash them in every coat I own.  
Note: these are not the warmest gloves on the planet.   If it's Dakota Territory cold, use them as a liner under a thicker pair.

SmartWool Socks

Typically a Feetures! girl for athletic socks, I bought 2 pair of SmartWool socks on sale [even though it is still winter!] and absolutely love them.  They're great for bumming around at home, treadmill running, or even keeping your feet toasty walking from the parking lot to the gym on frigid days.   But most of all they are amazing for outside running [or hiking or snowshoeing or whatever you do] when the air is chilly and your shoes are not wind proof.   I currently own the "Run Light Micro" style but a few taller pairs would probably keep me even warmer on outside runs since my ankles would be 100% covered.   They are marketed as an athletic sock but they are so toasty even couch potatoes should consider them vital.

Fleece tights

Again, ordered on sale in January.   (If you can time it right, you really should never pay full price for winter gear!)   My initial impression of these tights was not good because the size chart blatantly lied.   But I kept stretching them and they finally are long enough for my tall girl legs.    They look like regular old black tights, but the inside is fuzzy, like a sweatshirt.   Whoever thought of this idea is a genius.   They are much cozier than regular nylon tights, and when paired with knee high boots, you could stay outside for quite awhile without freezing.  Despite my initial hesitations, two thumbs up!  I will keep my eyes open for other colors.

Running Tights

Part of the Ninja Suit, Sugoi Mid-Zero tights are pretty much the best thing ever.   They are a lot like regular running tights but, as with my fleece babies above, are lined with a sweatshirt type material.  Except it's a fancy sweatshirt and does not absorb sweat while you run.   I don't know what magical unicorn hair concoction they use, but it works.   The tights are comfortably snug, like you're getting a lower-body hug from a fluffy creature as soon as you put them on.  And gosh are they comfortable!   I have thought about wearing them as lounge pants in the house more than once.   So far I have not done so, but am not ruling out wearing them indoors, either.   More running gear recommendations [for foul and fair weather] will be coming in a future post.


Soon after moving to the Buckeye State, Michael and I noticed our skin was very dry and itchy.   Duh it's winter, right?   Right.   But it was worse than that.   Like, keep you up at night itchy and dry and red and GROSS.  Part of the problem is that the outside temps were single digits and the furnace ran constantly, drying out the air to humidity levels of about 25%.   Hello static! 

So after a little bit of web searching we {Michael} stumbled upon this relatively unattractive but very effective humidifier.   Pretty much any type will do the job, but we found this Honeywell that works up to 2300 square feet, so the perfect size for our current home. We even found a coupon and paid way less than the MSRP.    It's been running basically non-stop and works beautifully.   During very dry days we do have to refill it regularly but that means it is working!  I don't anticipate living in a large space over the next couple years so it should serve us well in upcoming winters.  

Flannel Sheets

For some reason, flannel sheets are a polarizing topic.    My mother hates them.  Really, hate is not too strong a word here -  she really cannot stand them.   Last month Mom told me to take the sets in her house when we move since she will never use them.   YAY!   You see, I think flannel sheets are the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Probably even better.   I have had flannel sheets on the bed since the day we moved to Ohio.   There are 2 sets here in the linen closet so I throw one in the wash and can immediately make up the bed with a new set.  They are so darn cozy.   You can buy them just about anywhere, but Target likely has them on sale this time of year, and Home Goods probably has them on sale year round!  

Friday, March 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Week ending March 7

We are off to the Auto Show today!   We are not looking to buy a new car {I will likely remind Michael of this at least once} but it is fun to look, and they even let you test drive!  Surprisingly, I don't think I have EVER been.   Ridiculous, considering how long it's been coming to Cleveland.  So I guess this will be on my list of trying new things in 2014.   We are also heading to a Fish Fry with Nene and company today and I don't know if I have been to one of those either.   Talk about crazy.

Registration for the Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon opened yesterday and I am officially registered.    You know you are crazy when you register for a race while training for another.  I am so excited to run this one a second time.  The route is exciting because you get 3 Disney parks, it's a night race, and there is food and booze when you're done.  What's not to love?   Mary Lynn is for sure running and I am trying to get Al signed up too.   Al's initial response to my announcement?  "We would both need costumes that incorporate light up headgear. Those are my requirements for participation"
SIDE NOTE: I am realizing now that I did not blog about this amazing event in 2013.  So I will consider 2014 my mulligan and try to do better!

Blame the magazines and organizing blogs, but I have gotten the spring cleaning and organizing bug.  The only problem?  Our stuff is mostly in storage!  As a compromise, I may sort through some clothing so when we move next month there is less to haul around.   I do love a good purge.  And honestly, we have been in Ohio since mid-December.   If I have not worn a sweater during that time, I probably do not need it.  Ah the perks of working at home.... no worries about repeat outfits.  Relatedly, have you heard about Project 333?  I'm not sure if I am ready to take the plunge, but this could be a great trial run.   And if I had access to a full house full of stuff I would definitely do the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge!

We had another lovely weeknight dinner away on Monday.  Mary Lynn made No-Peek Stew which is delicious and when consumed with a big red wine, really hit the spot during a single-temperature cold snap.  We've had a lot of those lately, so I think that basically means we should make more stew and drink more wine.  Yeah.  That's it!

Living at my parents house has its perks.  This week's highlight?  Dad's tire pressure gauge and air compressor!  This saves us time and money and a trip to the tire place.  Win - win!   Something tells me this will continue to happen even when we live in a nearby apartment.   "Hey Dad do you have a ___ we can borrow?"   I like the sound of that.

So, we are now officially in the Lenten season.  {See also: fish fry}  I have not given up anything in a VERY long time.  In fact the last time I did, it was chocolate.   It was HARD [which I suppose is the point] but I stuck to it and felt quite victorious at the end.   Mom reserved a box of Tagalongs for me so I would not miss out that year, and the Easter basket was a real treat after my fast.  I had not thought of anything to give up, but recently came across this list as an alternative way to be aware during the season.   I know I won't follow it to a T but it was inspirational and got the wheels spinning.  I also like this non-stuff 'clean out' idea.

This week one of my coworkers asked me when my birthday is.  So I told her:  May 8.  Her response?  "Let me guess?   You'll be 26 this spring"   So I already liked this girl a lot, NOW I LOVE HER!    I have nothing to hide, so I told her 31.    "Wow really?  You look young!"   I personally don't think I look young but I will take it!

Don't forget, Jen has more Quick Takes!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Weekend Wrap: Baseball tickets, Apartments, and more!



Since Auntie is a season ticket holder, she had access before the general population so we quickly logged in and procured 4 seats.   As surprising as this sounds, it's in an area of the stadium we have never sat in before.   We have our fingers crossed for decent weather and of course a TRIBE WIN!

We will soon have a more permanent place to live!
Michael and I decided to visit some apartments on Friday.  While I finished up work, he did a bit of internet research - mostly to find the hours for the places we were thinking of.   At the last moment, he saw a listing for new construction apartments that open in April.   Well - they were the best ones!  I am glad he stumbled across that on Friday.   We visited an existing property, saw the floorplan of the new apartment, and put down a deposit.  We should get the official confirmation that we qualify [in other words that we have enough money and no criminal record] later this week.   Even though it's a pain to unload all of our stuff, it will be AWESOME to have a more permanent place to call home.

Award shows are entertaining
Sunday was Oscar Day for us, and I've got to say, it is much more fun to watch the awards after seeing almost all the movies!  As luck would have it, we got our hands on Gravity Saturday, so by the time the Oscars rolled around, we had seen 8 of the 9 movies nominated for Best Picture.  Of course, the one we did NOT see, Twelve Years A Slave, won that coveted award.   I have mixed feelings on wanting to see it.  On one hand the performances look absolutely amazing, and it WON BEST PICTURE for crying out loud.  But on the other hand, I think it would be a very tough movie to watch.   Not that sharing the stories of those who suffered should not happen.  Definitely not saying that.   I just do not know if I, personally, want to watch those images.    Time will tell.

 But you know when they are announcing the nominees for a particular award?   Say, best actress?  We had seen those clips in context!  It was so cool.  I am a huge nerd with no life.  I realize this.  But what I am trying to say is that during this cold midwestern winter, I enjoyed having something to work toward [I do love a list!] and it helped me to appreciate the movies and performances that much more.   OK enough movie talk.

Our own red carpet
For the first time EVER we were in town to attend the American Cancer Society fundraiser and it was a lot of fun!   Michael and I got all glammed up for the black tie optional ball.   {I forgot to take a picture, boo hiss}   Many kind people complimented me on my hair [!!!! seriously I am not a hair person] and my dress, which is always nice.   Let me tell you I am far from a fashionista.  When you work at home and 'go out' to the gym during the week it can mean a lot when strangers see you as a real person!  We even went home with three items from the silent auction.   If I had presented you with a list of all the items up for auction, I'm pretty sure you would have picked these three for us.   We bid on a lot more, most of which went over our price range pretty quickly.  So what did we win?

  • Two Level A tickets to a Great Lakes Theater performance [we chose DeathTrap later this month]
  • A basket of homemade pasta sauce, pasta, and delicious Italian wine
  • A gift certificate to the Tree House Gallery and Tea Room [where I had my bridal luncheon!]

Between all of our events, it was a busy weekend!   It is, however, rather enjoyable to not get bored during the Long Winter.  (To clarify I meant the season, not the Laura Ingalls Wilder book)  We are all counting down the days til we can get outside again!!