Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring is coming!

After what seemed like an interminable winter, we are thisclose to spring in the Poconos. My barberries are getting little leaf buds, and the cat is itching to go outside and find grass. When I drive in to work each day, I've noticed the forsythia are maybe a week or so away from popping into their golden glory.

Another sign of spring is our company softball games. Practice may start as early as tonight, and I can't wait to put on my cleats.

That's me last year. Just call it my softball slouch. Man, I need to do some yoga to work on that posture...

Fit x 2, Take 2

We visited our local dealer last night. The one that's 2 miles from our house. They made us on offer we couldn't refuse, so we will be 2009 Fit owners by Wednesday.


Pics to come as soon as it gets here :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fit x 2

J was home sick on Thursday, but called me to say a present for me had arrived in the mail. When I got home, this was on the coffee table:

Woo hoo! A Wii Fit! I've really been wanting to add this to our Wii repertoire. We set it up today and have been getting quite the good workout. J kicks butt at the hula hoops, and is determined to show off his prowess at the ski slalom. I stink at the high wire, but I'm quite proficient at the ski jump. I think we're going to get a lot of good use out of this.

Speaking of Fits, we test drove a 2009 Fit yesterday:

Man, this thing is fun to drive. It's roomy as all get out and suits us well. I always notice the dumb little things, like the huge winshield that gives you a great vantage point, and the little storage nooks for drinks, change, etc. And it's quiet, which isn't a surprise, given the fact that we each have 10+ year old cars that probably lost their soundproofing capabilities years ago!

We're checking in on prices with our local dealer this week and finding out if we have to order one. But we hope to have a new car in the house by summer :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I love birthdays

One of my departments at work goes all out for birthdays, meaning there is a LOT of food. The birthday girl in question had a big birthday on Tuesday (you know, one that ends in a 0), and she loves chocolate. I knew I had to make her this cake. Decadent double chocolate: the name says it all.

Because I've gotten crunchy granola in my old age, I used my trusty hemp milk instead of the Lactaid that was in the fridge, and I used organic sugar and agave nectar to sweeten it. Despite my best efforts, it stuck to the pan a little, but I just sprinkled extra powdered sugar on top and it looked fine.

It was divine. Everyone loved it. The chocolate liqueur glaze soaks into the whole cake, making it very moist. J was particularly pleased, since there were a few slices left over to share with him when I got home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Remember this post?

You know, this one.

Well, we sold our rental property. Yep, I drove down to Montgomery County this morning and signed our names a few times. And then we were done. I had lunch with our realtor and then headed home with a nice settlement check.

We're now down to one mortgage, and a really nice couple (and their son) are now the proud owners of a townhouse.

I think J will be a little sentimental tonight, since this was the first home he ever purchased.

When I got home, we received flowers from our awesome realtor.

Thanks Steve, they're beautiful!

If you're looking to buy or sell a home in Montgomery County, PA, you can't do any better than Steve Miller at Century 21. He made this about the smoothest process I've ever experienced, and he's a really nice guy. It was a pleasure from beginning to end.

Now we're off to have some shepherd's pie and a glass of champagne.

Happy St Patricks Day!


Over 3 years ago, we got a spice box as a wedding gift, and it included cardamom. I had never used it as a spice, ever.

Over 2 years ago, we visited my parents for Christmas and I was determined to make cardamom cookies from a recipe in my Gourmet magazine. My mom almost fainted at the $15 price tag for a little bottle.

These things have been on my mind lately, so I made some cardamom cookies. J wasn't terribly fond of them. He said they were "mild". I brought some to work, and had my boss try one (he's a foodie). He thinks the problem is that they look like gingersnaps, but they taste much, much milder.

I love them.

And I learned that cardamom is in the ginger family, so for some reasont that makes it better.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Good...

I'm back from my travels! Well, for at least a month. I had 2 sets of back to back meetings, and it was a new experience in the new role I've had since August. I got to meet a lot of interesting people and to see how well our team works together. We've been working almost non-stop since sometime in December, so it was nice to see the fruits of our labors at last.

Our first trip was in Dallas, and we stayed at the Grand Hyatt DFW at the airport. It was great. You could literally walk off of your plane into the terminal, take a left, and you were at the elevators to the hotel. The staff were amazing. They would drop everything to greet you and ask if they could get you anything. The rooms were nice--when a hotel bathtub is practically calling you to come soak in it, you know things are good. And the food--pecan pie to die for, afternoon snacks that made me drool, it was great. I think the only drawback was a lack of outdoor ambience, but we were so busy it didn't matter too much.

We had a very successful meeting and I got home safely. Mission accomplished.

...the bad...

So trip #2 was to Tampa. Let me warn you now, don't stay at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. Compared to the Grand Hyatt DFW, this place was a real disappointment. The food was marginal at best. The staff were either ambivalent or ignored us. The bathroom was run down. I put white ankle socks on to walk around the room, and they were gray by the end of the stay.
There were a few high points. The meeting went very well. We actually got to venture outside once or twice ;) One of our team members got a room upgrade. The hotel backed up to the bay. And I got to meet a gal I met on the Internet and always wanted to meet in person.
Some pictures to salvage the trip.
A view of palm trees from my window

A blue heron on the hunt

Berries on the nature walk

Florida has pretty flowers

...and plants

...and the ugly

About halfway through our meeting in this lovely hotel, someone told me the toilets weren't flushing in the bathroom. Turns out a construction worker ran into the water line and the entire hotel was out of water. We were out for a few hours until water was blissfully restored.

We were then informed that the water would be shut off again from midnight to 6am, and were provided 2 bottles of water in the meantime to brush our teeth due to a boil water advisory. We were warned to shower the night before our final meeting, considering we had to be ready to go at 6:30, and 6am wasn't a guarantee.

Sure enough, water wasn't restored until 8am. Thank goodness I showered the night before, or I would have been screwed. But let me tell you, pouring a bottle of water over my head and trying to make my hair look decent was a challenge. Considering the fact I had to do a whole meeting, then get on a plane and travel back home over 5 hours, you wouldn't be surprised that I showered as soon as I got home at midnight.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's a new day

Yesterday didn't start well. First we found we had no water.
Then the credit card company called and asked if we had charged $1400 worth of plane tickets on our card. Hey, I like to travel, but not that much. So we had to cancel our card, order new ones, and make sure nothing else was fraudulently charged.
Then J's work called wanting a document, so he had to hop onto a conference call while I dealt with the water company rep.
Once the water came back on (yes, it was a frozen water meter), J forgot about the bathroom sink that was on full blast with a slow drain. He finished his conference call while mopping up the water that was by then flowing all over the countertop and beyond.

All in all it turned out to be not too big a deal--water was restored at no charge to us, at least our CC company called us and didn't hold us responsible for fraud, and our bathroom "flood" was minor. It was just a lot of stuff to happen in a short period of time.

Today was better. The water is still running rather nicely, no major excitement happened before 7am, and we both got to work safely. Let's hope this winning streak continues.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No water :(

Should be an interesting day. We woke to only a trickle of water, and even that is gone. Considering that we have single digit temps, I'm thinking something is frozen along the way. Hopefully it's just the water meter, which we were told is a distinct possibility.

So here we sit, dirty, waiting for the water company to come.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Trying a little "experiment"

My hotmail account was recently updated, and now it provides a rolling list of contact e-mail addresses when I log in. Some are addresses of people I know well and see/e-mail often, like my husband or my mom. Others are people I only see/e-mail occasionally. I decided that each time I log in, I'm going to e-mail whoever is on the top of the list. Kind of a random way to keep in touch with people. So if you're reading this and I have your e-mail address, you may hear from me very soon!

On the road again

The man sings it best:


It's work travel time! I'm on a 3-day break before the next jaunt. Just got back from Dallas, and at the end of this week I head to Tampa. Don't be jealous--I'm not actually going to see Tampa, just like I saw a grand total of 20 seconds of Dallas. And that's just because I walked outside of the airport hotel, so it's not like I actually saw Dallas, just a snippet of DFW.

Still, it will be nice to be someplace warm. We're having a snow day here in the Poconos, so I'm hanging out in my PJs enjoying the pace of life before it speeds up again.