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30 July 2010

Bills, bills, bills

This summer has been a bit hard on my wallet. With all of the vacations and eating out and extra groceries (When it is just me, I barely spend $50 on groceries per week. Lately we've been spending almost $200 a week!!) and random other expenditures like car repairs and future travel arrangements and shopping, it has been tight these last few months. Happily, today was PAYDAY!!! Not only payday but raise day!!! My new pay increase went into effect this pay period which is a joyful thing. I also got paid for some summer camp work this month, so there was a little extra. All these were very good things given that I have bills, bills, bills to pay. So pay is what I did.

First thing this morning I got up and paid all of my bills. Well, all except for two. One I haven't received yet and the other I owe The Boy for because it is a joint bill. But nothing major. Not only did I pay my bills , I also wrote out all my collection checks for the next four Sundays. Now I will have no excuse not to make a regular contribution to the church each week. I am usually really good at this at the start of the month, but I get really bad at the end of the month when my account is getting low. But it is supposed to be an important expenditure, so I'm happy to take it out of my account at the start of the month rather than each week. It's always such a good feeling to get all of your bills paid at once. There's nothing looming over me, and I know what I can and can't spend for the rest of the month. I'm trying to save money, so I am going to attempt to be very frugal this month and in coming months. Why?

Well, I've been thinking about buying a ... gulp ... house. Or condo. Or townhouse. But buying. I'm a bit tired of the renting game, and I guess I would rather pay a mortgage than rent. I've spoken to a realtor, and I'm calling a mortgage broker on Monday to see exactly what I can afford. I have a good idea, but it is always smart to have a more solid understanding. Especially when considering such a huge investment. I'm not seeing anything happen in the very near future but maybe by the end of my lease in May.

But I'll try to take one thing at a time, one month at a time ...

28 July 2010

I've been framed!

My photography collection has been growing considerably in the past few months (especially since the introduction of the Canon into the family ... poor baby, all broken and in need of repair), and I have been meaning to get a great many of them framed. Happily, today when I went to buy frames, Michael's was having an awesome sale on frames. Pretty much every frame in the store was BOGO Free! The only thing better is ALL FREE, but I'll take what I can get. 

Now that I've got a nice variety of frames, I spent a few hours tonight putting all of my pics into their respective frames and I am quite pleased with my results. Only two frames need to be returned because they don't work well with the matting that I have. Other than that, my collection is looking pretty good. 

Now I just need to find some wall space for these babies ...

See anything creepy today?

No? Well, I did. 

This guy. Or, at least, someone who looked exactly like him. Or her. Not sure which and I didn't stick around long enough to find out. In fact, I didn't stick around long enough to take my own picture. It was almost 5 inches long and looked rather scary.

Turns out, it's a Zipper Spider or a Argiope aurantia or a Black and Yellow Garden Spider. All equally acceptable names for something exceptionally freaky. It's also not harmful to people. Thank God. It's just big and freaky and brightly colored like all venomous creatures. Joyously it is quite common here in NC and often finds its way into homes. (There goes any hope of sleeping tonight!)

It's called a Zipper Spider because it fashions a zipper-like design in its web.

See the zipper lines? It only adds to the creepy nature of the nasty little guy.

So, I can now add the Zipper Spider to my pathological fears. Right up there with the stupid Praying Mantis.  

27 July 2010

So "hair" is what I'm thinking ...

I'm still working on the hair issue. The humidity has been killing my tresses (think major frizz as soon as I open the front door!), and I'm tired of the non-stop ponytail. So I did some Google searching for hairstyles.

I like these styles, and I think the curl will work well with what I already have. First is Charlize Theron.  I like the length and the organized messiness that she has going on. Of course I haven't quite mastered the "smoldering" look yet, but I'll keep trying.

I really like how she (or, more accurately, her stylist) has it sleeked down in this pic. Very 40s.

I also like Elisabeth Shue's (remember her?!?) cut from a while back. 

Similar to Charlize's but a little shorter. Not too sure why this pic is blurry. Hmmm ...

Minus the sex-pot clothes, I really like her hair here. 

So that is what I'm thinking for the mane. I'm definitely ready for something different different. And shorter. It's too damn hot down here for this long hair o' mine. 


26 July 2010

Hairy pics

In case you are keeping up with my new hair saga, here are some pics of what it looks like now. After I cut it, I'll post some "after" pics. (Keep in mind that these are make-up free pics. Gulp.)

25 July 2010

To cut or not to cut, that is the question

If you haven't noticed, my hair has been growing quite long lately. In fact, it is longer than it has every been. And it is now also quite curly. And thick. And mane-like. And hard to control. In fact, unless my stylist has straightened it for me, it is generally in a ponytail or bun-type thing. (This is partly due to how freakin' hot it has been here lately!) I've been thinking seriously about cutting it off and trying something new. The great thing is that, if I cut my hair now, it is definitely long enough to donate. The problem is that I have no idea what I would like to do with it. How short do I want to cut it? What style do I want? When do I want to cut it? Ugh! The dilemmas of a girl.

I think I'm ready for a change, but I'm just not sure what that change is.

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

After a wonderful week in CNY with my beloved family, I am back in NC. And melting. It is hot here. H-O-T. Like 103 degrees without a heat index. Ouch. The air conditioning has been running non-stop in my apartment all day, and it is still 81 degrees. When we got home last night, we unpacked and immediately went out to dinner and a movie. We knew it would be cooler in restaurants and movie theaters, and, after a long (and thankfully easy) drive, we wanted to relax.

So we're back. It's always good to be home. My dear friend Little DB took care of my plants, and they look great. As a belated birthday present, my orchid had produced another bloom in my absence, and there seems to be another on the way.

My orchid looks quite nice next to my new orchid that Niece Kyra got me for my birthday.

By the way, you'll have to excuse the picture quality in my blog posts for the next few weeks. My beloved Canon is on the fritz and I am using my rinky-dink Kodak point-and-shoot. Boo!

22 July 2010

My beautiful home

Aren't I lucky to be from such a beautiful place?

Pic o' the day

Doesn't that just make you smile?

Hiking Treman Park

Yesterday we hiked Treman Park. It's one of my favorite parks here in the Finger Lakes. We got out to the park about 10am because we wanted to beat any major storms that were brewing. The weather forecast had storms in the afternoon (and, boy, were they right!!), and we really didn't want to get caught in the rain. So hike we did. It's a nice 4.5 mile loop of mixed terrain. Lots of stairs, lots of inclines, lots of declines. But the beautiful scenery and waterfalls made it all worth it.

Bailey kinda loves hiking.

B and her dad enjoying a waterfall. 

My favorite part of the park. 

Lucifer Falls. 

Upon returning home, I uploaded all of my pictures and then my camera decided to suck and stop working. The brand new one. :( This makes me very sad, but happily it is still under warranty so I can get it repaired for free. Sadly, this means I'll be without it for who-knows-how-long. At least my pretty pics from the hike were saved!

The Birthday Round-Up

Well, I survived the dreaded 30th birthday without tears or a major breakdown ... which is a good thing. All in all, the birthday was actually quite enjoyable. I got to sleep in, go shopping, eat great food, and hang out with the family. Who could complain about that?

Yesterday, after sleeping in a bit, The Boy and I headed to the old neighborhood to check things out. You know, it's always good to see how things change and stay the same, right? Well, aside from a super-mega-Walmart and some additional student housing, Cortland is pretty much the same as I left it five years ago.  After checking out the old neighborhood, we headed down to Ithaca for some shopping and lunch.

We stopped at Mansour's Jewelers to drop off a ring for sizing (my aunt gave me a beautiful estate ring for my 30th. I'll post pics when it actually fits my finger!), some charms for adding to me charm bracelet, and a gift from The Boy for my big day. Once they have all been finished, I'll post some pics. Since we were already on The Commons, we stopped at Simeon's for lunch. Mmmmmmmmmm .... so tasty!! My Blueberry Mojito was absolutely fabulous, and my portobello panini was pretty great as well. After lunch, we headed to my all time favorite place ... WEGMAN'S ... for some shopping. Once my shopping thirst had been sated, it was time for Ithaca Beer. A case of Partly Sunny, and we were ready to go home. We didn't hit Ithaca Coffee Company or CTB, but we'll get there sometime before we leave.

Once home, I helped Pop clean the pool and then The Boy and I got in for about an hour. The weather was gorgeous. Beautiful blue sky. Big puffy clouds. Hot with a gentle breeze. Perfect for the pool. We lounged for a bit, took a nap, then hung out with Mom and Pop until my sister came over with her kids. We played a few rounds of bocce, and I worked on teaching my nieces to measure the distances between the pollino and the bocce balls. It was pretty fun. The sky was beautiful in the evening, and there was even a rainbow!! Especially for my birthday!

After it got dark enough, my sister set off some pretty wicked fireworks that Mom and Pop bought in PA. They were very cool. Not those little "floor show" fireworks that people usually get but really high aerials. I watched with my beautiful niece Kyra on my lap, and it was pretty wonderful.

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic birthday. Low key, relaxing, and with people I love. The way birthdays should be!

19 July 2010

Birthday celebrations

Sunday afternoon was my NY birthday celebration (even though my actual birthday is on Tuesday) with the family and friends. It was a great time, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. All of my siblings were there as well as all of their children (except my eldest nephew who had to work), and my grandparents were present too. There were lots of family friends and long-lost people who I haven't connected with in a very long time. Mom, as usual, made a TON (literally, Kiki) of food and Dad cooked his awesome chicken. Mmmmmm ... Everyone was very well fed and sated. The kids swam for hours in the pool, and the majority of adults sought shade from the hot sun. There was a wonderful breeze which kept things comfortable. I still managed to get a little sunburned, but it was an all-in-all great day.

The balloon release was pretty cool as well. It took everyone a little pushing to get excited and involved, but once all of the balloons were released, it was pretty cool. I'm eager to see if people actually find my balloons and respond here. The balloons were caught in a very good breeze so hopefully they carried far!

My amidst my balloons.

A birthday basket from my sister. Does my family know me or what?

An orchid from Kyra. It will look great with my orchid at home!

Me and my gram. 

The balloon release. 

Filling the sky with wishes. 

The best thing about the whole day was that I didn't have a birthday hangover today! It's so easy to get ill when out in the sun and drinking cocktails. Smartly, I had very little to drink yesterday. Only a few glasses of wine with friends and some champagne later in the evening.  

Another great thing about the party was reconnecting with some people I hadn't seen in a very long time. Like the Mussons. They've been in Germany for the last four (five?) years and are finally back in the States. 

And Andy and Jane, some of The Boy's friends from his professor days. 

All in all, a very good day. Thanks to Mom and Dad for doing so much for my big day!

17 July 2010


It's 3:57. AM. I've been up for almost an hour. Boo!

I hate not being able to sleep. Sleeping is one of my all-time favorite pastimes, and, when I can't do it, it frustrates me. There is a multitude of reasons why I can't sleep, and today it is anxiety. Trip anxiety. It happens every night/morning before a road trip of any length. I'll fall asleep easily enough, but I'll be wide awake in the wee small hours of the morning.

I also find a multitude of things to keep me busy in those pre-dawn hours. Usually it involves checking out Facebook to see who else is awake (and it is generally my mom friends) or watching Bravo or the Food Network. Today it was completing my long-overdue FAFSA (which, by the way, is asinine. Why do I have to fill it out when I am only applying for loans? They aren't going to refuse my request to borrow money, and I already know that I'm not eligible for financial aid!). Completing it was rather simple since all of my data is saved year after year. I zipped right through it with no major issues. Until I hit submit and realized that in my pre-dawn haze I submitted my results to the wrong school! Stupid girl! Now I have to wait three days until it is processed and then I can make corrections. BOO! Oh well. That's what I get for trying to be productive when I should be sleeping.

16 July 2010

The Story of an Orchid

I brought home my beautiful orchid last summer and enjoyed her massive blooms for the entire summer. As fall came, her blooms slowly fell, one by one, until she was just a naked branch. She looked dead, but everything I read reassured me that blooms would return when the plant was ready. As the months passed, I became more skeptical of this miraculous regeneration. 

Suddenly, about three weeks ago, a tiny little nub appeared on the naked stalk. The little nub grew into a bud as other little nubs appeared on the branch. The little bud grew and grew and grew until it was the size of a walnut.

I knew that a bloom was on the horizon, and I was eager to see it! That little bud took FOREVER to get to its blooming phase. But, finally, the bud began to open. Very, very slowly. Yesterday afternoon, this is what my precious bud looked like.

And today? She is fully open and majestic as ever! It took over 24 hours for this bloom to open, and it was certainly worth it. The three-plus weeks that I watched that nub grow into a bud and then into a bloom is so completely worth the wait. I am eager to see the rest of the nubs transform into blooms as well. 

Sometimes the beauty in the world and the magic of nature just awes me. 

14 July 2010

Fish update

Fish is still alive. The clean water and daily feedings haven't killed him ... yet

10 July 2010


This is Fish. I bought him early last spring when I was still working at Elon. Burke the Beta had died, and I wanted a new beta. So I got this guy. He survived well in his little bowl. He survived the move to the new apartment and new job. He survived a two-week vacation to Spain. (The vacation was mine. He wasn't fed once while I was gone.) He has survived multiple one-week and weekend-long trips without being fed or watered.

I admit it. I'm a horrible fish mother. I never clean his water, and I usually forget to feed him. More than 75% of the time, there is a nasty film coating the top of his water. When I go on vacation, I never arrange for someone to feed him, and I don't leave a feeding tablet in his tank. When I got home from Spain, I was convinced that he was dead because the water was so murky and thick! But he wasn't!! He's invincible, I tell you! Before we left for VA Beach, he was on his last legs. His little head was buried in the marbles at the bottom, and he wasn't swimming all that much. I didn't have the heart to flush him until he was totally dead, and, when I returned home, he was swimming around and happy again.

I decided to reward him for his endurance by cleaning his bowl. The bowl is all clean now, and now he'll probably kick it. We'll see. :)

Plant update

Happily, all of the plants survived my vacation. Shannon came over and watered them once while I was gone, and the sun didn't fry them. Yeah! The tomato plants are growing quite well and have produced quite a few tomatoes. For some reason, my strawberry plant has stopped producing fruit. Not really sure why that has happened because it was producing decent fruit earlier. 

My tomatoes, rosemary, and strawberries. There were bright red tomatoes on them this morning, but I decided to take the picture afterwards. D'oh!

My new pot of succulents. I arranged and potted each of these little guys. I've given up on growing potted plants because the sun is so damn hot! I like it though. 

My portulaca. It's a succulent and very drought resistant. 

I love this one little yellow flower surrounded by all of the other pinks.

Okay. This is an absolutely horrible picture, and I'm a bit embarrassed by it. But it does show that my orchid is getting ready to bloom again!!! I haven't had blooms on it since last fall, so I'm pretty excited that it is coming back! I'll post pics of the blooms as soon as they appear.

What?!?! No pictures?!?!

As it turns out, I took about 20 pictures during my entire vacation. For a picture-taking fiend that is rather embarrassing. I just wasn't feeling the camera. Plus, with the ocean and the pool, I was more than a little afraid of getting it wet and ruined. But I did manage a couple of pics. Mostly fireworks, but a few of my peeps.
Kyra making the pancake face against the sliding glass door.

The kids (minus 3) waiting for Grandma to finish making pancakes, french toast, and eggs. 

Kyra. My girl. L-O-V-E this child.

That's it for pics. Lame, huh?

Vacation has ended and real-life resumes

Vacation is over, and I am back at home. Just me and B and The Boy. It's quiet and calm. Ahhhhhhhhhh .....

I had a great time with the family, and it was really fun to hang out with my nieces and nephews. I only see the kids two or three times a year, and it is usually only for a few hours or so. We played in the pool, went on bike rides, walked on the beach, visited the boardwalk, watched movies, and just hung out. It was a very good time. It was also fun to hang out with my siblings, but the kids were more fun! I so easily forget how different and entertaining they all are. We had some good times, and hopefully we will have more fun times next week when I drive up to NY for the birthday extravaganza.

All in all, the vacation was a good time. I didn't do any work (boo!), and I relaxed the whole week (yeah!). But it was really nice to get home yesterday evening and be in my own home. Bailey immediately nesteled into her bed and slept. All night long (until the storm came through, but that is another story!). You could tell that she was happy to be back in her own space and her own bed. The Boy and I got Mexican take out and opened a bottle of wine. By 10pm, I was ready for bed. I was freakin' exhausted. It's weird how exhausting a family vacation can be. I guess any vacation has that affect, but I still don't understand why. How can a week of relaxing be so draining? Anyway, I went to bed and slept HARD until the storm came.

What an AWESOME storm! It rolled through around 2am (I think. I was still pretty comatose.), and it was HUGE. Of course, Bailey hated it and hid in the bathroom until it passed. I really wanted to stay awake and listen to it, but I was so exhausted that I kept falling asleep. I was able to stay awake for a little while to listen, and it sounded like the storm was directly over the apartment. The thunderclaps were so loud and close they house shook every time it thundered. The lightening was blindingly bright, and then the rain started. My back porch got flooded (like it usually does when it rains that hard), but nothing got damaged. I was so happy for the rain since it was a free, nature-sponsored watering for the plants. And the tomato plants outside didn't even get damaged! None of the little baby tomatoes got knocked off in the downpour, and one little tom even fully ripened! Water is an amazing thing. It was a wonderful storm.

The building was also powerwashed while we were gone, and it looks a million percent better. The algae and grossness that had accumulated on the siding is all gone. All the gross cobwebs and spider webs are washed away. The building looks so much better, and, now that my patio is all put back together and normal, I'm looking forward to spending some quality time outside ... if it ever cools off!

07 July 2010

Mid-vacation update

Well, at this very moment, I am sitting in a quiet house. Alone. With The Beast. Everyone is gone right now. EVERYONE. My sister and her family headed home this morning. My brother and his wife took three of the kids to a water park. My other brother and his wife took their daughter to Build-A-Bear. Mom and Dad went shopping. My older nephew and niece went to the boardwalk to hang out. The Boy has driven to Newport News to visit family. And I am at "home." In peace. And Quiet. Ahhhhhhhh....

Aside from the constant noise (and, believe me, nine kids ranging between 5 and 19 make A LOT of noise), the vacation has been a good time. Of course there have been tense times because that happens when you throw 19 people into a house for a week. But, for the most part, everyone has gotten along really well. The kids have had a great time playing with each other and hanging out. The adults have had a good time reconnecting and relaxing. I've had fun playing with my nieces and nephews in the pool and in the ocean. B has been a bundle of nerves, but she is currently passed out on the couch.

The fireworks on the 4th of July were pretty cool. We could see four different fireworks displays from the crow's nest on top of the house. I attempted to take some pictures, and they turned out okay. Everyone enjoyed the fireworks except for B. She never likes them. I don't really know many dogs who do.

Not too sure what is planned for the rest of the week. Mom and Dad are planning on leaving tomorrow around 3pm, and that will just leave us and the brothers. Hopefully lots of relaxing.


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