29 February 2008

I thought I'd post a quick update. The technician showed up at the exact time he promised. He replaced the motherboard and memory, but the computer's still not working right. They're sending out a recovery disc, and with tech support, I'll install it. The tech was very nice, and so was I.


28 February 2008

Dell is not my friend, Part II

I'll cut to the chase. The promised call from the technician never happened. Dell never called to follow-up, as promised. I was spitting mad. My voice was coming out an octave higher than normal when I called Dell support, again. I was so mad I was close to tears--I couldn't help myself. A very helpful supervisor took on my case. She put me on hold while she spoke to the technician and told me he would be calling within the hour. I didn't believe her, but what could I do? She said she would call me back to make sure it happened. So, she calls and asks if the technician called. I say, in my high voice, what do you think? She said, he called. It took everything in me to keep my voice down when I said, NO! He didn't call. Can you believe he didn't call? She told me she would call me back in 5 minutes. She called him, called me back, and said he would be calling immediately, which he did. He was sorry. He had the flu. His replacement was a no show. There was no excuse, blah, blah, blah. He's supposed to be at my place of work tomorrow between 11:30 and noon. I told him I would do my best not to be angry with him. A customer support representative from Dell is supposed to call me tonight, sometime after 5:00. It's after 6:30, and you know the rest. My hope is that when I post tomorrow, it will be with all good news. I'm so tired of this subject. Aren't you?

So, I spent the day here, waiting and on the phone. I organized my paperwork and got everything ready for my taxes. That was good. It was a busy day around my bird feeder and birdbath. There were 3 pairs of Cardinals along with a woodpecker on the deck at the same time. That made my day a little brighter. And it was windy, and you know how I love hearing the chimes. Moving on, I dusted my room. Woohoo. I met Emily's dad at her school for conferences. Emily is doing very well, and her teachers think highly of her. That was welcome news! I came home and watched last week's episode of LOST on Emily's computer. That had a surprise ending! And here I am. What a mixed up, emotional day.

27 February 2008

Whine warning. You still there? Good. I'm whining because my computer hasn't been fixed. I've been making calls to India instead of blogging. Since last Tuesday. Not the way I want to spend my time! The service I've gotten from Dell in the past has been suburb. I've called one day, heard from the technician the next, and had it fixed the day after. This time? The records show the technician signed for the parts last Wednesday. They've never called, though Dell said they said I was unreachable. How can you be unreachable when you have three contact numbers and no message left on any of them? On Monday I was promised that, without a doubt, it would be fixed on Tuesday. Well, no show, no call and yet another evening spent on the phone with Dell. Promises that without a doubt it would be fixed today. Again, no call, no show. I called Dell from work at 3:00. Was told the technician would call me within minutes. Guess what? No call. Tonight, another marathon session with Dell. This time with a manager. He assured me the technicians will call at 10 AM tomorrow. He said Dell would call me between 10 and 10:30 AM to follow up. He guaranteed me it would be fixed tomorrow and that he would call me personally tomorrow night. Sounds good, huh? I hope that tomorrow I'll be telling you how happy I am to have a fully functioning computer. I realize I'm spoiled. I have Verizon FiOS and it's very fast. I haven't had dial-up for a long time. I'm not used to, let's say, going to Blogger:Dashboard and having to wait 5 minutes for it to load. Or typing away and all of a sudden seeing that hourglass, telling me to wait. Or not being able to access my pictures. I'm used to taking this computer for granted. So...I won't be at Panera's tomorrow. I'll be home, waiting for a phone call. I'm going to try my best to be optimistic. I don't like whining.

In the meantime, Idol is on. I like to blog and watch Idol. I'm behind on all my other shows: Lost, Jericho and Brothers and Sisters. Maybe I'll watch them tomorrow while I'm waiting.


26 February 2008

Just a quick note. I'm still catching up on reading blogs. Slowly. I haven't done too much complaining about my computer woes, but Dell has not fixed my laptop yet, as promised, and I'm whiny about it. Mad and whiny. Three phone calls to India down, and I hope there won't be a fourth. 'Nuff said. I still love Dell, though.

Promise I'll write a real post soon. Later!

25 February 2008

It sure was great to get away. When you're not at your own home, you can really relax. There's no bills to pay, calls to return, bathrooms to clean, clothes to wash. You have the opportunity to just lay around. That's what I did this weekend, along with great company. If my computer was up to snuff, I'd post some pictures. I should be able to do that in a day or two. I drove up to Deep Creek Lake, which is in the far north western part of MD, about a 3 hour drive. Up in the mountains. I was able to listen to a lot of my audiobook, Duma Key, by Steven King. I loved the drive through the snow covered mountains and valleys. There were five of us at the condo: the owners of my salon (their condo), a co-worker (and friend) and her husband, and me. Unfortunately for them, it was not a good skiing weekend. It rained on Friday night, and although the trails were groomed, it wasn't the best conditions so they didn't ski but a little on Friday. We spent our days and nights in sweats, reading, watching TV, cooking and eating. They (not me) took naps. We went into a little town on Sunday morning to eat at a luncheonette, and walk around. That was our big outing. It was a quiet, relaxing and lazy weekend. It was perfect.

I'm off to read blogs now. There's no way I'll be able to catch up and comment after being away for 3 days, but I can't just click on 'mark all as read' on Google Reader. So I'm probably just going to browse. I missed you all. I'll be back to my normal routines, and hopefully faster computer, soon. Later!

22 February 2008

I'm working for a few hours tomorrow, then it's time for a road trip! I'm heading for the slopes. Literally. I'll be the non-skier of the group. My plan is to read, relax, and cook. I'll write again when I can. Have a great weekend without me!

21 February 2008

Gone with the wind. It's the best title I can come up with, but it only describes part of the day. I'll try to condense it. I got to Panera's early so I could have some blogging time before Bonnie arrived. My computer let me down. All it did was act crazy and I never did get online. I wished my book out of the car to help pass the time, but it didn't cooperate. Bonnie arrived, and we settled in for a long visit. We'd been there for at least an hour, when someone came up to the table from behind and said hello. At first sight, I thought it must be a friend of Bonnie's, then I realized it was Happyone. What a fabulous surprise! It turns out she had read my blog this morning, thought she knew which Panera's Bonnie and I would be at, and jumped in her Corvette to find us. It was a perfect first meeting! We have so much in common, and could have spent hours together. Karen stayed for a while, then drove her fancy car past the window so we could check it out. Bonnie and I both agreed we would have been nervous if we had made plans to meet Karen, but with her surprise visit, we never had the chance. It would have been a wasted worry, as most worries are. Bonnie and I stayed for lunch, then went our separate ways. I made a quick stop at the grocery store, and as I was driving away, I reached into my purse for my cellphone. Here's where I make the story short. The cell phone is gone. Missing. Vamoosed. I had it in Panera's. AT&T shows the only use of the phone all day was the phone call I got in the morning. I retraced my steps to no avail. I found that I was really attached to my phone. I tried to tell myself that it was only a 'thing'. I pouted and sulked. Then I went to AT&T and got a new SIM card to put in Emily's old phone, and that's what I'll use for now. Did I mention my old phone was fancy? So much for fancy. So much for all the phone numbers that I don't have anymore. Oh well. I'm over it; that's the good news. I sent out a mass e-mail asking for phone numbers, and I'll build it back up.

Watching Idol while finishing writing. I've decided not to watch LOST tonight so I can view it in high def tomorrow on Emily's computer. I'll spend the rest of the night in bed reading.

They're calling for nasty weather starting in about 2 hours. Snow then ice. Tomorrow should be interesting. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

PS...I've been known to send a card or two in the mail. Drop me a line with your address (and birthday) if you feel comfortable doing that. You know I'm no stalker!

20 February 2008

It was an odd kind of day. I had a short day scheduled at work, then had a last minute highlight cancellation, making it an even shorter day. So, it was another not much work done kind of day. I got my hair cut. It's always a treat to be a 'client'. I asked the assistant to take an extra long time with the shampoo because it feels so good! Something else that made the day different was that we had a photo shoot to update our website with new pictures. I thought I'd be OK with having my picture taken. You can tell from the number of pictures of me on this blog that I'm used to it, but it was different with a professional. I kind of froze. My usual camera smile felt very fake. I didn't like the preview results I saw on the LCD screen, but that doesn't mean they won't look good when they're edited. I asked the photographer if he could Photoshop out the 'crack' between my brows. I hope he didn't think I was kidding. I left the shop by 4:00 to be home for Emily. It probably would have been fun to stick around and watch the rest of the photo shoot. They were taking pictures of the staff, selected clients, and a number of models in their wedding dresses for the bridal section. There was a party atmosphere in the salon.

I'm ready to watch Idol and catch up on blogs. It doesn't take long to get behind. Tomorrow I'm meeting Bonnie at Panera's. Lucky me!

19 February 2008

I only have time for a sentence or two because my night was spent with Dell technical support and it's almost time for bed. And I really wanted to read my book. Pout! The bottom line with my slow computer is that it's not recognizing the memory. Not the new 1G, nor the old 256. When the tech figured that out, I remembered that this 'slowness' began the end of January when I tried to install new memory that wouldn't quite fit. So, I'm thanking my lucky stars once again that I decided to extend my warranty for an additional year. Dell is sending out a technician with a new motherboard and a new memory unit. Yes! Since I extended the warranty they've fixed a video driver, replaced the keyboard I spilled coffee on, and fixed something on the motherboard where the cord connects. My computer's like a cat. Many lives.

18 February 2008

So, Kelly and I are in the very crowded waiting room of the imaging center, when the door is opened and my name is called. Instead of looking up to see a woman wearing scrubs, I'm called back by a very hot guy. No other way to describe him. As I'm following him into the corridor, I'm turning back to Kelly and mouthing 'no way!' He leads me to a cubicle and instructs me to remove my bra and pants and put on a gown. At that point I say, 'you're not doing my mammogram!' He looked very embarrassed and told me no, he's doing my bone scan. Oh. Whew! I'm all for equality of the sexes, but I draw the line at male mammographies. The bone density test was interesting. It was fun being with Kelly for the other scan. We were in the inner waiting room at the same time and chatted away. It turns out the woman doing my scan was a former client at my salon, and followed her stylist when she moved. We talked the whole time about Kris Ann, and I hardly noticed the procedure. Well, that's not true. When someone's manipulating and compressing your boobs, you can't quite not notice. I guess I'd say the time flew by. Kelly and I went to Baja Fresh for lunch afterwards, then to Staples where I bought and installed the memory I've been wanting, and bought an external hard drive. Kelly came over when we got home, and set up the hard drive. I've moved all my pictures and important documents over. I've scanned my computer for adware, spyware, compressed this, deleted that, and cleaned it all up. And it's still running slower than ever. Wah! But, I digress.

It was a good day for me. I'm heading upstairs to start a new book, The Tenth Muse, My Life In Food, by Judith Jones. I didn't get to read any blogs today...sorry. I'll catch up with you all later. Thanks for stopping by!

17 February 2008

It's been a very long Sunday. Looooog. It was one of those 'jump out of bed' and get out of the house mornings. I headed to Panera's by my parent's and hung out on a very comfortable double-seated leather chair. I had a latte, then a few cups of regular. From there I went to my parent's. I did my mom's hair color. She's set with color and cut for the next month. Then I went about figuring out how to work my parent's Blu-Ray DVD player. I just couldn't get it. Finally I called my brother to see if he could help. Guess what? You turn on the TV, turn on the DVD player, and that's it. No input buttons, DirectTV remotes, etc. It was too easy! I also found out that you can play HD DVD's and regular DVD's on the Blu-Ray player. I printed up new directions for my parents and put away the HD directions and remote. They don't ever have to use that DVD player with it's complicated directions. I made sure my parents understood how to use the remotes and follow the instructions before I left. I also insisted that my father watch the NASCAR race on the big TV. Despite having a TV that I'm having serious envy issues over, he usually watches everything on the little kitchen TV. Go figure. I stopped by Sears on the way home to look at their TVs. I'm still not ready to make a decision.

I picked up Emily and her friends and brought them here. They played Wii. I made quesadillas. They hung out. Finally, I dropped them off at the movies.

It was a bad eating day. Lots of coffee, two granola bars, a half a plain bagel, a banana, two McDonald's snack wrappers, and three mini Dove chocolates. Blah.

Tomorrow will be busy. My neighbor and I have a mammogram date. Sound like fun? Not. We'll go out to lunch afterwards. That will be the reward. No woman enjoys getting a mammogram. For me the worst part is the worry afterwards till you get the results in the mail. I'll also be getting my first bone density test.

That's about it for me. Over and out!
Bonnie tagged me with this simple game. Something even me, and avid meme avoider can handle!

Here are the instructions:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

The book that was really in front of me was Baking Illustrated and page 123 had a lot of technical jargon about the science behind the natural fermentation that occurs during the retarding process in bagel making. I decided to cheat and picked up the book I just finished.

"'His killers live in this forest and we're hunting them down'?"
"Well, what?"

The book is Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock. Emma just told a local boy a tale about her father's killers. Carrie never understood what really happened and is questioning her sister.

Here's a comment from the back of the book:
"Deftly capturing the hidden thoughts of an emotionally bereft child, Flock's haunting second novel, reminiscent of Kaye Gibbons' Ellen Foster and Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, is not soon forgotten." -Booklist.

You're all tagged, OK?

16 February 2008

I'm home alone on a Saturday night. The house is totally quiet, but brightly lit. I want to catch up on some TV shows after I write this. If I ever finish. I've had this screen up for over 2 hours. Not writing all the time, but still...

Work was just fine. Busy and uneventful. I went to Border's afterwards and didn't have to wait for an available table. I read the new Cook's Illustrated magazine (which I'd highly recommend) and PC World. There wasn't a wait for tables so I didn't feel guilty staying a long time. Emily's at her friend's for the night, so there wasn't a rush to get home. I had a large latte with an extra shot (4 shots of espresso) instead of my usual medium. The caffeine always keeps me up...what's one more shot? I bought a wall map of Maryland that I'll tack up on the wall leading down to the basement. I have no sense of direction, and I think having a visual will help me. That and the GPS. It's funny that I read computer magazines in Borders. Most people who know me would find that surprising. I'm a 'book smart' kind of person, though. I'm fascinated by computers and technology and information, but I don't put my knowledge into practice. I'm just not good at it. Does anyone here remember my post about Moleskines? Well, this is what I do with my pocket Moleskine: I sit in Border's and read computer magazines and write down web addresses for places I want to check out. Or recipes. Or, let's say, all the tips in Consumer Reports on how to buy a HDTV. And then I never open my Moleskine again till the next time I see something I want to write down. So, the book is filled with a trove of information that I never follow up on. Recipes I never make. Notes from haircutting classes that I don't review. How to's. Note's from the meeting with my parent's lawyer that I finally looked at today. Just because I'm writing about the notebook. Interspersed are little notes I don't remember writing like this one I just found: "It's times like this I wish I were the single friend and not the mother." I wonder what that was about? Here's a picture I just took of the first page:

Of course I didn't remember that was on the first page. Because I only look at the next blank page. I guess I'll have to do something about that now that I see all the interesting things my book contains. And yes, I am filling it up.

I was very hungry when I left Border's and decided to look into a new restaurant near by: Cosi's. It's a chain, but I think the first one in the area. I knew they had free wi-fi, and brought my laptop with me in the morning just in case I wound up there. I had a great dinner: some sort of baked eggplant with a wonderful house salad and homemade bread. I read some blogs while I was there, and was happy. What can I say?

So, here I am, 9:13 at night and I'm totally wired on caffeine. I think it's going to be a long night, but that's OK. I have plenty to keep me occupied.
I thought I'd dash off a quick post before work. Fifteen minutes to go and I'll put it to good use. A busy day ahead at work, then lots of time on my hands. Emily is spending the day and night with a friend, starting at 9:00 this morning with a school swim meet. She'll be coming home sometime on Sunday. I wish I'd had more notice so I could make plans. I think I'll head out to Panera's tomorrow morning, then go to my mom's to do her hair color. She'll like that. Sounds like a good Sunday plan.

I finished my book last night, Me and Emma. It was a hard book to put down, but hard to read because of all the abuse in it. It had a very surprising ending. I have another book that I'll start today. I'm almost finished listening to 'The Center Cannot Hold' by Elyn R. Saks. It's the fascinating story of the author's life with schizophrenia and I've learned so much from it.

Well, my time is up. I'll be back later.

15 February 2008

Darn, no time to write. I'm rushing to Target before work to pick up a new alarm clock for Emily. Today was the second time in a week that she overslept. Using her cell for an alarm is just not cutting it. Happy day, peeps!

14 February 2008

I'll write a few words before Lost starts. I love this show!

Today's work day didn't have much work in it. I had lunch at Panera's with my boss. I went to Walmart afterwards and bought, among other things, Dove chocolate. Yes, I know. Mistake. I'm going to give one bag to a co-worker and another to my mom. That just leaves one, and I couldn't help myself. Could I say it was for Valentine's Day? I had my hair done when I got to work. Highlights and color. It was wonderful to be on the receiving end of this service. I did a few clients, then headed home, picking up a pineapple pizza on the way. I've spent most of the night reading a very sad book that came highly recommended.

I bought myself flowers to go along with my chocolate. How was your Valentine's?
For a window of time, I was the one others were envious of on Valentine's Day. My ex sent the most extravagant flowers. Everyone at the front desk knew just who they were for. The things he wrote in the cards could have been written by Hallmark. For the first few years, we had wonderful candle lit dinners at fancy restaruants. I loved it all. Then, he went away. Emotionally. The flowers kept coming, but the heart of it was gone. The dinners were only wonderful if they included wine. I'm much happier these days giving a VD gift to my daughter and seeing her face light up. She was so surprised that I had gifts for her. She thought she was too old. You're never too old to your mother. I'll be bringing pink cupcakes to my co-workers and hope that brightens their day. I'm happy when the people around me are happy.

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

12 February 2008

Gray. Very cold. Sleet and freezing rain. A perfect setting for a day off! Happy, happy me.

I switched days off when I realized today was Election Day and schools would be closed. I'll be working Thursday instead. I called my clients on Friday to apologize and cancel their Tuesday appointments. Unfortunately, the majority of them were teachers, who made their appointments specifically because of the day off. I should have arranged my schedule for this months ago.

Yesterday I made it my mission to play with the Wii. Here's the screen with my Mii:

Half the fun was creating my image. Then I set about to find my inner hand/eye coordination. It doesn't come natural. I started with bowling. I like bowling the best. I was alone in the house, and was screaming and shouting with every spare and strike. Then I went on to tennis. I probably spent an hour hitting balls. I'm getting better at it, but still haven't had that 'aha' moment. I turned it on today to do more practicing, but Emily wanted to play. I watched her play tennis, standing beside her, trying to mimic her moves. It seems like she uses her wrist a lot. I'm swinging my whole right arm. And that arm is very sore. And that's my Wii story, so far.

Time off and the weather have put me in the mood to cook. I made quesadillas for dinner last night. And the night before. And for Emily's lunch today. She made one for lunch on Sunday. I guess you'd say we're on a quesadilla kick. Safeway had Tyson's southwestern chicken strips on sale for a great price. I bought many packages, thinking I'd freeze them. Not. Tortillas, fried onions, Mexican cheese blend and the chicken makes a great crispy meal. And I didn't take a picture because? Last night I made The Pioneer Woman's cookie dough and candy recipe, using her oatmeal crispies dough. Oh, I feel the calories adding up. I have a head of garlic roasting in the oven. Emily just called down from upstairs, 'Ewwww, what smells??' I think it's a heavenly smell. I'm making PW's mashed potatoes and I planned to add the roasted garlic. I'm rethinking that. I'll cook marinated chicken on my George Forman grill, along with fresh broccoli. Then I'm done cooking. Till the cupcakes tomorrow.

Today was a very un-Cheryl day. Did I just refer to myself in the third-person? Weird. I had the hardest time staying asleep last night. It was a relief to be off today because I've been feeling very glassy-eyed. I threw on some clothes and went to vote at about 10:00. I was the only voter in the building, so it was a quick trip. I went to the grocery store for some fresh fruits and veggies, and came home to spend the rest of the day indoors. I finally showered after noon. I vacuumed my bedroom and cleaned my bathroom. That's the extent of the work I did. I'm in sweats, and it's been a low-key and relaxing day. Dinner should only take about 30 minutes to prepare, and I'll start that as soon as I finish writing.

Any Jericho fans out there? I love that show! It was canceled last season, but thanks to the fans, the network was persuaded to release the un-aired episodes. It's on at 10:00 tonight, after my bedtime. No DVR here, so I'll have to catch up later. Jericho and Lost are my favorite shows. The writer's strike has been on so long that I don't even remember what else I like!

The news is on in the background. The interstate highways are a parking lot because of the freezing rain. Ten and twenty car pileups. I'm so glad I'm safe and sound in my warm and smelly (in a good way) house. And with that thought, I'm off to cook.


11 February 2008

Tried and true. Trust me. I wouldn't steer you wrong.

Chipped Beef Bread Dip

16 oz. sour cream
1- 1/2 cups Hellman's mayo
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 packages dried chipped beef (Esskay reduced sodium is best)

Mix and refrigerate at least a few hours to combine flavors. Hollow out a medium-sized round bread and fill with dip. Break 'crown' of bread into large chunks, along with an extra loaf, to dip with. I like to use sourdough.

Fumi Salad

1 lg package cole slaw (I use Fresh Express angel hair)
1 package Ramen noodles, crushed in bag (I use chicken flavor)
1/3 c dry roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 c toasted slivered almonds
2 chopped scallions

1/4 cup plus 1 TBS seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 c oil
3 TBS sugar
seasoning packet from noodles

Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside. Shake every now and then because it takes the sugar a while to dissolve. (I use the cruet from Good Seasonings dressing) Mix all the salad stuff together except for the noodles. Right before serving add the noodles and the dressing. Toss.
I wonder if anyone notices me when I sit, alone, at a table at Panera's, typing away on my computer with a half smile on my face. Do they wonder who I am and what I'm doing? Just a thought. On my way to the restroom, I took notice of the many different people here. There appears to be at least three tables with book clubs. Two business meetings. Three tables of six people socializing. Five or six tables with a lone person on their laptop. From where I'm sitting, I can see three people with Starbucks cups. Lots of tables with two women. And with husbands and wives. There's been a line in front of the register the entire time I've been here, which has been at least an hour. What a vibrant place. My kind of place. I feel guilty though, because I should be at my mom's. I'm at the Panera's by her house and she probably thinks I'm at home getting ready. (Update..I just called her and said I'd be there in 30 minutes) Last night Emily said she'd be taking the bus. Oh. OK. So, I slept late, which for me was 6:58 AM. I got up, opened my bedroom door and saw Emily's was still closed. Her first time oversleeping! So, I rushed to get ready so I could get right on my way after bringing her to school. I've mentioned I'm a morning person, right?

I arrived at Kit's for the book club meeting yesterday about an hour before the start time so I could help out. Emily decided not to come. Kit's house was more clean and orderly than I've ever seen it. I'm telling you, everyone should have a party just to get their house in shape! (The shine has faded on my own. Maybe it's time I throw another party?) Had I mentioned she asked people to bring 'comfort' food? I'll try to recreate the offerings. I made a chipped beef dip served in a bread bowl. (If I've never posted the recipe, I should because it's a favorite.) There were crab balls with wasabi dip. Veggies and dip. Tomatoes and feta cheese. Deviled eggs. Lots and lots of wine. After about an hour, we sat down for dinner. Kit made the pot roast, which was fabulous. You really need to try The Pioneer Woman's recipe. There was mashed potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, a cheesy vegetable casserole, Greek salad and my fumi salad. For dessert there was Texas sheet cake and bread pudding with an amaretto sauce. After dinner and during dessert, we discussed the book. We actually spent quite a bit of time talking about it. We took a vote on the book and I'd estimate it was a split decision. We either hated it, thought it was just so so, or loved it. I was a so so. The best part was the thought provoking conversation. We left the meeting with an April date for the next one, and the promise that the book choice would be e-mailed to us. It's the first time that we didn't discuss the possibilities for the next book. I hope it's not a self-help one. Not my foray. Not saying I couldn't use help!

Yow! I was just on the phone and it ate up my last chunk of time here. I'll head over to the folks, cut my mom's hair, and maybe even watch a DVD on that 52" TV of theirs. Till the next time...

10 February 2008

Usually I'd be at the 'lodge' on a Sunday morning, but since the breakup, I've been staying closer to home. It looks like Emily and her boyfriend will be getting back together, so our daily routines will once again be changing. There's a lot of things I could say at this point, but, I'll keep it short. I've always liked Emily's boyfriend, and if I had to make a choice, I'd say he's a good one. I just wish they weren't so young. And it was so hard to see her heart broken once, and know that it's a good possibility it will happen again. If you were to ask me what causes the most conflict and heartache in my life, I'd have to say it's being the mother of a strong-willed teenage daughter. If you asked Emily, it would be having me as her mother. Really. And that's all I'm saying for now.

We went to the 'not' surprise party for my Cousin Jill last night. We were a little late, so I put the Fumi salad in the kitchen and joined the rest of the guests to wait for Jill's arrival. I hadn't mixed the dressing with the rest of the ingredients because you do that at the last minute. I guess Emily walked over to the food table in the dining room because she came over to me and said, Mom, someone else made Fumi salad. What? I walked over, and sure enough, there it was. First thought? I have to blog about this! So, after the guest of honor arrived, I put the salad in my car. I was just bringing an appetizer to the book club meeting today. Now it'll be that and salad. Bonus!

Time to get moving. Happy Sunday!

08 February 2008

It's Friday night and I'm doing my usual thing. Sitting here on the couch with the laptop, in my lap, of course. The only sound is the swishing of the washing machine in the laundry room that's right off the family room. Very convenient place, I must say. I've got an open jar of Planters dry roasted peanuts next to me and that's kind of dangerous. Like eating ice cream straight out of the container. Talking about food, I still haven't gotten back to 'eating right' since my trip. Not that I'm terrible, but I need to be strict for a while.

I worked a half day yesterday to accommodate some of the clients I had to cancel last Friday. I worked 4-7 which felt very strange. I went to my parent's house in the morning, then my mother, sister and I went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch. I went to two grocery stores, picked up Emily from school, then went to work. It actually was not bad.

I've gotten into the habit of driving Emily to school every morning. She really appreciates it, and she gets to sleep for 40 extra minutes. This morning, as I was approaching the intersection where I would turn left into my development, I noticed that all the traffic lights were swinging wildly. I was scared. Was this just because it was windy? Was my imagination just overly active? As I got closer I saw that a traffic light was hanging about 4 feet from the ground, and a cable was scattered on the blacktop. I steered around it and turned in at the next left. Very strange. I'm glad I hadn't arrived minutes earlier.

I have a busy weekend ahead. I'll be working tomorrow and then hanging out you know where. Emily and I are going to a cousin's birthday party at night. I'll be making Fumi salad. Yum. Sunday is the book club meeting and it's at Kit's house. She's making The Pioneer Woman's pot roast, on my recommendation. I'm going to make a chipped beef dip in a bread bowl. Emily's coming with me. She'll be able to talk about the book since she read the last third. Yes, we finally finished Eat Pray Love. I liked the first and last parts of the book, but overall didn't love it. I wonder what we'll read next?

I finally had to roll the jar of peanuts across the carpet so I would stop eating them. I'm so full!

Well, I'm off to read your blogs. Have a great night all!

06 February 2008

I know what will happen. If I start catching up on the 117 posts waiting for me on Google Reader, I'll never put out a post of my own. So, I'll do a little writing before reading. That is, if I can write with American Idol playing in the background. I'm not sure why I have it on. I don't usually watch the try-out phase of the show.

It was a great, crazy busy day at work. All great clients, including my sister. I always do her color and cut when she's in town. I'm her favorite hairstylist! My mother came along and got a massage. Doesn't that sound great? I work in a salon with skin care and massage and I never get either. What sense does that make? Anyway, they left for Panera's and I went back to my busy day. I could have used roller skates. It was my kind of day.

I came home and right away started dinner. Pan-fried shrimp, fresh gnocci with butter and grated Parmesan, and a medley of yellow and green beans with baby carrots. All cooked in about 10 minutes. Yum. Much better and healthier than the usual pizza. Em hung out with me watching the news. All the news: 5:30, 6:00, 6:30. We don't usually just have the TV on, but that's how it's been tonight.

And here I am. And I'm off to do some reading. Later!

05 February 2008

I just reposted the weekend trip. I spent so much time on it that I'd be happy to never read it again. It's below this one, if you feel like reading it. Enough said.

I've been sitting in front of the TV since getting home from work. Watched E.T., American Idol, and now, House. Em's upstairs, on the computer and phone, and wanting to be alone. Her need to have me around seems to be gone. I'm not taking it personally, but there were parts of last week that I really loved. I enjoyed her company. She was really wonderful to have around.

Tonight's post is going to stay small. I'm not feeling very creative. I'll be back to normal soon.
I'll start with a warning: you might have read this before. Sorry! I put this up last night, only to find out that half the pictures were missing. I worked on it, put it up on my 'practice' blog, and it seemd to be in order. Not. So, here it is again, minus the pics.

What a grand getaway! We stayed at the Antrim 1844 Inn, in Taneytown, MD. One of my clients told me about it. He and his wife go there to celebrate very special occasions. He described the fabulous winter special, and after seeing the website, I was sold. I'll tell you the price after I describe our stay.

I didn't get a good picture of the mansion. (Not that it wants to appear here anyway.) As we walked up the stairs, the front doors were opened by two suited young men, and the concierge. That made an impression! After checking in, we drove to our rooms, where the gentlemen were waiting to carry in our luggage and give us a tour of our rooms. Yes, they were huge. The suites were the size of apartments. I had made arrangements for three rooms. My sister Ilene and my mother stayed in the Grant Suite, neighbor and friends Kelly and Barbara in the Lee Suite, and Kit and I in the Jackson Room, all in the Carriage House. The suites were the size of apartments. It turns out we were the only guests in the Carriage House.

After settling in, we made our way over to the mansion for the afternoon tea. We were treated to fancy sandwiches, savory scones, cookies, raspberries and blackberries, along with beautiful teas in silk bags. A gentleman was playing on a grand piano and singing jazz tunes. A fire was roaring in the huge fireplace. We were happy. And we knew this was just the start. Have I mentioned that we all like to eat?

We went back to the Carriage House after tea. I brought a few CD's and we listened to Norah Jones while enjoying some wine. Everyone changed into their evening clothes, and we went back to the mansion. It was a 30 second drive! We took the car because of my mother. Hors d'oeuvres were served at 6:30 while the piano man sung. There were bacon wrapped scallops, brie and raspberries in puff pastry, and some type of salmon tidbits. I had just come back from the bathroom when my sister said she liked that one best. I said, hmmm, where's mine? Oh, I sat on it. The wine, you know? Not too much damage done.

At 7:00 we were seated for the six course dinner. Our menus were printed with our names, and signed by the chef of this 4 star restaurant. We had three waitstaff just for our table. We started with cream of crab soup with crab ragout for some, and foie gras and salmon gravlax for others. Next was a sampling of salmon with capers and lemon and smoked oysters. Then a salad of fresh mozzarella and bresaola. I don't know what that means but it was delicious. The Intermezzo was a grapefruit ice. I chose Dover sole gratin with lemon and capers served on a bed of creamed leek as my entree. Others chose the filet and lobster bearnaise or the scallops with salmon, artichokes and tomatoes. Just wonderful! Lastly, we had a 'panache' of chef's desserts along with coffee. It was a three hour affair. We were so full. It was as amazing as it sounds.

We came back to see our beds turned down and this nice touch. It was billed as a 'romantic' getaway.

We visited for a few hours in the living room, not wanting to go to sleep on a full stomach, and still having a lot to talk about. Finally we went up to bed. In the morning, we were greeted by this outside our doors...

This was not breakfast. Really. I didn't eat my muffin. Didn't want to spoil the country breakfast. Which was just wonderful. I wish I could show you the pic. I won't try again.

The price? I know you shouldn't talk about price in 'polite company', but I don't mind, because it was amazingly affordable. And I did put in that tease in the beginning. The Romantic Winter Special is usually $119 per person, plus taxes. We were upgraded to the suites because they were handicapped accessible, for just $159 per person. Including everything. The regular price of staying in the suites without the package and no meals is $325-$400 per person per night. This was truly a getaway to remember, and I will surely thank my client for recommending it. I feel as though I've been on vacation. And treated like a queen.

Sorry for this very long post. I just couldn't help myself!

04 February 2008

I spent so long on tonight's post. The one you're not reading. Brad left a comment saying he couldn't see the pictures, and he was right. I took the post down for now. It's bedtime, so I'll work on it in the morning. See you tomorrow!

03 February 2008

I've spent the first part of my morning in bed, catching up on blogs. I feel better when I don't get too behind. So, you see that Emily decided to join the blogging world. Will it last? We'll see. I think it's a great idea, and found her first post interesting. Telling the world that she'd like to live with her father. She's never said that to me, and here, with her first post, that's what she tells everyone. My feelings are not hurt. I think she'd really like to be far from her ex boyfriend right now, and I can't blame her for that. I seriously thought about moving about a year ago. We were in the midst of a huge redistricting battle, and I did not want her going to the new school. I grappled with the love I have for my house and the school Emily would most likely be attending. In the end, we both decided that the school would work out. I'm a person that doesn't like change. I'm rooted where I am. My family, who I'm so close to, is here. My job of almost 21 years is here. I don't know that I could find a house that suits me so well. I could barely afford a decent townhouse near Emily's father, and here I have a large, sun-filled home. As Mary pointed out to Emily in her comment, Emily's days here are numbered. She'll graduate high school in 2011. So, this is home. Sweet Home. And, that's life.

My sister Ilene arrived in town from GA last night. She's staying with my parent's for a week. In a few hours, she, my mother, Kit, my neighbor Kelly, our friend Barbara, and I will leave for an overnight stay at a historic Inn near PA. It sounds like it's going to be just wonderful. Did I mention it has a 4 star restaurant? We'll be taking advantage of the Romantic Winter Getaway package. Ha! Two of the rooms have a sleep sofa and one of them a cot for the second person. So, it won't be romantic, but that's OK. We're going to have a blast. Yes, we'll miss the big game, but I'm only interested in the commercials anyway. I can catch up on them through YouTube. The weather will be in the 50's with full sunshine. My cold is manageable. I'm taking my meds, and the nose spray, especially, is helping.

So, enjoy your Sunday, peeps. I think it's going to be glorious.

02 February 2008

Hi everyone, it's Emily. I just decided to start a blog, so check me out!

Good morning,

I feel like a new person today. Still sick, but the kind of sick I can work with. I have plans for Sunday, so I hope I wake up feeling even better tomorrow.

Good Saturday to you all. Those of you in the snow belt...enjoy the white stuff!

01 February 2008

I've got the miserable kind of cold. Sneezing, runny nose, terrible headache, chills. I called in sick today. I'm thinking it's been at least 10-15 years since I've done that. It took me about 2 hours to convince myself I was sick enough to take off. I'm just that way. In my line of work, I have clients with appointments all day long. When I take off, there's no place else to fit them in. So, I'll be working my next day off. My sister from Ga is in for a visit next week, and I wanted to spend the day with her, but, that's the way it is. I hope to just work a half day. My boss encouraged me to see my doctor today in case I have a sinus infection. I went, but the doctor thinks it's an upper respiratory thing. She prescribed the antibiotic prescription of Z pack (sp?), and told me to take it tomorrow if I'm not feeling better. I also bought Claritin. I've already taken 3 Motrin, and they're just not doing anything.

Well, enough of the whining. I'm off to bed. With a cold pack on my forehead.