Thursday, December 29, 2011


Or maybe MMA star? No - neither. I don't like violence. At least not when someone I know is involved and Bruce Willis isn't kicking butt on the TV screen. 

So, let's just go with a little busy-body who I can finally feel kicking/punching in my belly! 

That's right, the little guy made himself unmistakably known Tuesday at 3:30 in the morning when, for an hour, he plunked and thunked me in the side. It was so irresistably sweet! I even woke Brad up, and he could feel the big ones! 

A few days before Christmas, I thought I was maybe feeling something for a few minutes, but it didn't last long and it was slight, so I couldn't be sure. But Tuesday and since then, I have been certain - sometimes you can even see what looks like a heartbeat in my belly when he gives a good strong kick! 

Next on the list: start showing for real, instead of only after I've eaten (when, believe you me, it's very obvious that I'm pregnant). 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nothing Can Ever Be Simple; or, Displaced Persons

That, I believe, is a fitting motto for Christmas Break 2011 - however, right now I'm only talking about the floor re-finishing project, AKA, the Winter Headache '11. 

The plan was (relatively) simple, especially given all the alternatives we had laboriously considered: 

1.  12-22 - have the floor professionally sanded on 12-22 while we are out of the house for the morning/afternoon; 
2.  12-23 - Brad and my mom apply two coats of stain over the course of the morning and afternoon, while I hang out downstairs and away from staining smells; 
3.  12-24 - Brad and my mom apply polyurethane coat #1, then Brad and I vacate the house for the holiday (to my parents' house) until late on the 26th; 
4.  12-29 - Brad and my mom apply poly coat #2 in the a.m., then Brad and I go to WV for the Christmas celebration with his family and eventually head back to my parents' house through the New Year; 
5.  12-31 - Brad and my mom apply the 3rd and final coat of poly in the a.m. Then it's done! 

Numero uno went great, and it only took the floor guy about 4 and a half hours from start to finish. 

Look at those bare oak beauties! 
But, of course, we didn't even get all the way through #2 without a problem: the stain reeked, and I had to get out of there all afternoon; then after they did the second coat, we packed up in a jiff and went to stay at my parents' house a day early. 

Fine. No biggie. Except when Brad and my mom went over on the morning of Christmas Eve (boo! Who wants to do work on Christmas Eve?!), the second coat of stain was not completey dry despite having 17 hours. The first coat was dry after 4 hours, so we figured 4 times that (the can says 4-6 hrs.) was sufficient even in non-ideal conditions (i.e., December in Southwestern PA). Wrong

They hung out for two hours with the heat jacked and a fan blowing, but still it would not dry. And putting poly on a not-completely-dried floor is just asking for problems. So they returned, and step #3 got moved to the afternoon of the 26th, when all went well. Thankfully. 

Brad and I went back to our abode about 24 hours later, however - really needing some in-our-own-space time - and this time the house smelled of polyurethane. We opened windows everywhere except for the nursery (despite rain), jacked the heat (again), and went out for a bit. But when we returned: no dice. It wasn't an awful smell, especially in the living room where I was - in fact, I could barely tell there was anything still lingering - but Brad the bloodhound could smell it, so we left for baby safety's sake. 

Thus, just 5 hours after having packed up everything we brought to my parents' house (and we do not travel lightly) and driving 45 minutes home, we turned around, drove back, and unpacked it all. I thought I was going to flip both my lid and Brad's lid and the lid of anyone else within my sight. I was sooooo exhausted, and I felt like a displaced person traveling around with pillows and blankets and Target bags filling the back seat of my car. 

We're not getting the 3 days at of rest and recuperation at home that we had planned on in b/t the holidays, and the sleeping arrangements here are NOT long-term solutions - by the end of this project, we'll have been holed up at my parents' house for TEN DAYS! (Yes, I consider ten days "long-term" in this situation.) Hopefully in about a week, though, this will all have been worth it, and I'll have some lovely fabulous wonderful great pictures of the floor to post. Brad and my mom got coat #2 on successfully this morning, and their plan is to head back Friday morning to finish this dang thing

With any luck, we'll be back in our smell-free house by Monday night and my mom can reclaim her living room from our computers/cups/Netflix and her upstairs from our, well, everything else. And, hopefully, the cats won't be too mad at us for our extended absence - we've loved them up during our near-daily visits back to the homestead.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Oh, Charlie Brown

I didn't watch the movie this year, but I saw the commercial a few times tonight, and something Linus says is just cracking me up: 

"Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem." 

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. I love it. Surely we all know that person . . . . 

Oh, and Merry Christmas (a day late)! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

We're Having a B-to-the-O-Y!

And he wouldn't sit still so the whole process took an hour and 45 minutes (!) and then the radiologist wanted to see some things for himself b/c this kid was being ob-sti-nate and giving the sonographer a hard time but then the doc said everything looks good and to keep doing what I've been doing!

Oh and he weighs 10 ounces :). (Which is just silly cute.) And he let us know within the first ten minutes that he was a little boy, haha. 

Plus he's like as low in my abdomen as could possibly be, thus making things even more difficult. My back was killing me the whole time and she was pressing and jabbing and poking to try to get a look at him and I was like barely holding back a yowl. I'm pretty much sensing he does things his own way - like his mom :). 

Oh, plus he kept opening up and closing his mouth, and right at the end of the ultrasound he yawned! It was nuts! (I was pretty worn out by that point, too, so I don't blame him.) 

Any day now I should start feeling all that crazy movement . . . and even a somersault or two - the sonographer saw him do one!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hired Gun

For as much as I like to do things on my own and for as handy as I consider myself to be, sometimes it pays to know when to bring in the pros. Which is exactly what we're doing for the soon-to-be-nursery floor tomorrow circa 9 a.m. 

This floor has been causing not a few headaches. It needs to be refinished in the worst way. Not only is it 1960s orange, but it's got a host of black splotches and gouges and random bits of carpet padding/glue stuck to it. 

You mean your husband doesn't use various saws to 
cut apart an old desk as a means of furniture removal? 

Until yesterday, however, I had way way more questions than answers regarding this whole refinishing business: like, when is Brad's dad off work so he can help Brad sand it, and how many days is it going to take? Will my mom and Brad be able to stain the floor (2 coats) the next day? Apply the poly (3 coats) the day after that? And, in the process, how long am I (we) going to be displaced from my home? 

It's been unduly frustrating to me that this huge project needs to happen without me having my hand in it; but floor sanding, staining, and polyurethaning - like almost everything else in the world, I swear - are no-nos for the pregnant chick. And being in the vicinity of the sanding dust and the poly fumes is likewise off-limits. 

Which means all I can do is plan and direct beforehand (and then cross my fingers and hope for the best - eeks!). And sit at my parents' house and twiddle my thumbs. (Alright, there are other things I can do there, but still.) 

Then enter Brad's tennis/golfer's elbow and the chiropractor's warning that manuevering that big sander could irritate things a lot. I was at the point of giving up - and had just about decided to switch rooms for the nursery to a room with a floor we'd already done - when I had a brilliant idea: 

Call around and see what someone would charge just to sand the floor. 

Brad resisted ("it'll be too expensive"), but I persisted, and he made the calls yesterday. And the happy news turned out to be that a nearish-by floor guy is available tomorrow and agreed to do the sanding for $160 - plus he can do the whole room (with the closet) in about 6 hours. 

This is a steal considering that renting the big sander from Lowe's for two days (which is how long we figured it would take) and buying all the necessary sandpaper (for the big one and the random orbital palm sander that you need for the edges and corners) and tack cloth, etc. would cost approx. $100. 

So, for $60, Brad gets two days of his life back and doesn't hurt his arm; I get to stay in my house an extra two nights (since this guy will have all the dust cleaned up by the time he leaves tomorrow afternoon); and we don't have to work around Brad's dad's work schedule. My mom'll be over early on Friday so they can start the staining, and then early on Christmas Eve so they can get down at least the first coat of poly. It's the first coat that's so crucial to do ASAP - to ensure that the floor's grain doesn't raise too much - so if they get no further than that on Saturday, it's no big deal for them to do the remaining two after Christmas. 

I'm the first person to try to do stuff on my own to save a buck. But this time, it just made sense call in a pro and get 'er done.

The Vote Is (Mostly) In

So in the will-it-be-a-boy-or-a-girl-sweepstakes - which will hopefully be decided tomorrow morning :) - the votes have been counted . . . 

6 : 3 in favor of . . . 

No matter what, I hate the color pink 
a girl! 

My mother is still being obstinate and wavering back and forth (how dare she!), but Brad, Amanda, our chiropractor, the two receptionists who work at his office, and Diplo have all come down on the side of a girl, while Jo, Shannon, and Brad's office mate are guessing a boy. 

None of these guesses is even remotely scientific - nor are they based even remotely on old wives' tales. Shannon had a dream that we had a little boy and nicknamed him "Ogdus" (haha), so she's guessing boy. Everyone at the chiro's office can picture me and Brad with a little girl so they're going with girl. 

Last time we were at the OB, baby's heartbeat was 140 bpm - so the old wives' tale that says above 140 and it's a girl/below 140 and it's a boy seems not to be working here . . . . 

I've officially got no feeling one way or the other, but I sure hope this baby isn't stubborn tomorrow!


The panel I proposed to the International Conference on Narrative got accepted! 

Las Vegas, here I come this spring!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Monkey. Off. Back. Phew

See that horrible guy? His name is Fall Semester 2011. And he's officially off my bid-ness - as of 5 minutes ago when I submitted my grades. 

This was a wonderful semester in one obvious respect: Brad and I found out we're having a baby. Which is just delightful. But otherwise, it's pretty much been a crap show. 

Earlier in the semester, my mom was in the hospital for 5 days with (they finally figured out) a wacky kind of shingles called Ramsey-Hunt shingles. It's awful and rare and has no outward shingles signs and is therefore crazy hard to diagnose, and I've never seen her so miserable in my life.

Then, in late November, my dad was in the hospital b/c of issues with his number of red blood cells b/c of the leukemia he's had for over a decade and a half. 

Top that off with my two experiences with spotting after learning I was pregnant - the first one at 7 weeks, the second at 14.5 weeks - and the hospital is quickly becoming not my favorite place. (I will say, though, that I was relieved to go and have the ultrasounds that showed everything was fine and there was no apparent reason for the spotting.) 

I also spent 5 weeks with morning sickness that felt like a stomach virus, then 4 weeks with some of the worst headaches of my life. There were nights I was in bed at 8:30 p.m. b/c I couldn't bear it. (And, of course, pregnancy-approved Tylenol doesn't do jack sh*t.) 

Then my parents' long-time neighbor (who I lived next door to for more than 15 years and with whose kids I grew up) died after being in the hospital for almost 4 months. 

Add to this perhaps the most apathetic class of freshman composition I've ever taught (they weren't even bad - they just couldn't have cared less) and 15 weeks worth of a horrible medieval literature course that made me feel like I couldn't sit in class for one more second, and what you've got is a whopper of a craptastic time. 

And so, I pressed the "submit" button on my grades - and voila! it's. officially. done. thank. goodness. 

Now break is upon me and then a busy, busy semester and then - baby! So for now I'm going to relish a bit of relaxation, get my house organized, buy some presents, open some presents, hang out with my family, play board games with Brad, listen to Jim Brickman's Christmas cd, enjoy the tree, get prepared for next semester, read a few magazines, maybe rip off some wallpaper, and, with any luck, find out if our little baby is a boy or a girl. 

And then the grind will start up again in January - though the monkey can kindly keep his distance.

Friday, December 16, 2011

When It Snows, It Blizzards (sic)

Yeah, I know blizzards isn't a verb - hence the (sic) - but this situation fits the form of the cliche too well not to use it. And I do love me a cliche (except when it's in a student's paper - then, watch out). 

Cars: utterly essential, but I hate dealing with them and I hate thinking about them. And I especially especially hate spending money on them. And especially right before Christmas. And especially when it's to the tune of $1000. 

That's right. Between this past Monday and Chrismas, Brad and I will have spent a thousand dollars on not simply our cars, but on tires for our cars. Tires! I could scream or cry or break something, but instead I'm just writing a blog post. 

The Accord needs snow tires b/c, well, it just does. It's not a particularly big or heavy car, and it definitely doesn't have 4 wheel drive. We've gone without snow tires, for better or worse, for a bunch of years now, and it's time to buck up and drop the $400 for safety's sake. Maybe we're growing up a little bit with a baby on the way? One can always hope :). 

While we knew that expense was coming, we were not expecting to dish out $570 on four new tires for the piece of crap Blazer. But, as (un)luck would have it, while Brad, Shannon, and I were in the city to see a play (for a class) last week, the Blazer got a flat tire. And when I say "flat," I mean flat. Like, it looked like someone had just slashed the thing, even though there was no slash. 

The poor guy changed it in the ice cold, in work clothes, on the wet ground, by himself (while Shannon and I made various trips into the nearby convenience store to keep my feet from freezing off). We were 25 minutes late to the play and he had wet pants and dirty hands to show for himself. 

Unfortunately, the guy at Walmart said all of the tires were in bad shape - and he legally couldn't just sell us two for the front or back. We rely on that (idiotic) car for our bad weather travel, so good tires are obviously key. Plus the thing probably wouldn't pass inspection b/c of the tires come spring or whenever it's up. 

In the end, we went to the tire place nearby, sucked it up, and got 4 new tires - but of course SUV tires are expensive and Brad wanted not-the-cheapest-ones for safety. Almost $600 later, our wonderful (bah) Blazer - which I think we have never actually washed - has beautiful new Goodyear tires. Now, if only the driver's side window would roll down and the door would open from the inside every time instead of just sometimes. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

No. Nope. Huh-uh

I simply cannot understand the appeal of the "poncho" or the "cape." Since last year, I've been seeing these things all around, and they continue to baffle me even now. Would a sweater simply not do? Or perhaps a jacket? A light-weight zip-up of some sort? 

As I have always understood these two articles of clothing, a poncho is worn in rainy weather, frequently purchased on the spot for a sporting event or tourist-izing, and it's plastic and, well, ugly: 

The cape, on the other hand, is a staple for super heroes and vampires

Why are we now re-purposing these items in the name of fashion?! 

At Thanksgiving my darling 14-year old niece was wearing this black sweatery thing over a white long-sleeved t-shirt, and I was thinking, "WTF is she wearing?!" when my mother said, "Oh, your poncho looks so cute!" Well, that was simply not true. I love my neice a bundle, and she's a doll, but that "poncho" was a horrible, hideous thing. 

I'm not actually sure I even understand the difference b/t the two, and, when my mom called it a "poncho," I thought she was just out-of-touch and it was really a "cape" (now I'm guessing she was probably right), but it seems that each of these is somehow its own individual style. Maybe a cape, like Batman's, goes over your shoulders and is open in front, while the poncho goes over your head and doesn't open in the front. I can hardly even believe I'm thinking seriously about this. 

Yes, yes, I know all you poncho-and-cape-wearers out there are thinking how un-hip I am, and perhaps you're right. But I just don't see how these things are flattering, and, I might be crazy, but I thought the point of "fashion" was to look good? 

How, exactly, is this poncho flattering?! 
Of course, I did for years say I'd never ever (ever) wear skinny jeans, boots, and leggings, and those proclamations got swept away in the course of but one fall season. Even still, I just cannot imagine myself defiantly donning a cape (or a poncho) and heading out into the world to conquer the day.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Like sands through the hourglass . . .

Sometimes, when you're super caught up in writing endlessly long and endlessly meaningless things (read: a history of the criticism on a medieval poem that you only read part of), you forget how the rest of the world lives. That is, you forget about the meaningless indulgences they get to enjoy, indulgences that you, too, could enjoy, if only you would stop writing blog entries and reading other people's blog entries and just finish. your. damn. paper.

Such things as soap operas come to mind. In fact, after suffering through a horrible weekend and three more horrible days of paper-writing, Jo is now indulging in many DVR-ed episodes of Days of Our Lives, an exhilarating experience attested to in a text message convo. from just moments ago: 

Me:  How's Salem [i.e., the setting of Days]?? It can't possibly be as interesting as Sir Orfeo. Bahahahahahahahahaha 

Jo:  I watched about 12 hours yesterday. We had a kidnapping, some blackmail, an illicit affair, and lots of men without shirts. It was glorious 

Me:  Sounds abt right for two or three weeks of a soap opera. No one thought dead miraculously arrived on the scene?? That's a bit disappointing 

Jo:  No . . . but someone thought paralyzed began walking. And then he was promptly arrested for some white collar crime and his family was shot at :) 

Me:  HAHAHAHAHAHA . . . I really just laughed out loud. Ahhhhhhhh the world outside academia: how refreshing. 

Now, if I had hours to gloriously waste on a soap opera, I'd pick General Hospital hands down - but she's a Jersey girl :) so I guess we've gotta give her a little leeway (hehe).

This is how you know you're out of touch

Yeah, that's a ring of snow around the top of the pumpkin. You know, the pumpkin sitting next to our snowman stick-thingy. Need I say more? 

De-Caffeination Success

I don't know how many days it's been since I started cutting back on the caff, but I'm pleased to report it's been a success: as of about a week and a half ago, I'm running on about 75 mg a day. 

This the equivalent of 

1.  a small Starbucks espresso drink, like a Caramel Brulee Latte (yum for holiday drinks; Brad loves the Peppermint Mocha), or 

2.  (my preference) a medium half-caff espresso drink (i.e., one shot of regular espresso and one shot of decaf) such as an iced Caramel Machiatto with whipped cream, or 

3.  a can of Mt. Dew + 2/3 of a can of Coke later in the day (I throw the rest out or give it to Shannon) 

Cutting back to, generally, one drink a day also means I'm usually not drinking caffeine after noon, which is probably a good thing given my crazy pregnancy insomnia. Last night, when I had a Mt. Dew at 6 p.m., I definitely paid the price come midnight (of course, that could have been a result of sleeping in till 11 a.m. and then napping from 3-5:30, but still). 

So, the basic gist is that you can get control over your caffeination with a minimum of discomfort and sleepiness - if you're willing to put in a few weeks of effort and really be conscientious. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Maybe that baby's just gotta dance"

This morning Brad and I got to hear baby's heartbeat again :) - and the sound of him/her moving around in this belly of mine, which the PA accurately characterized as "that scratching record sound." Baby was really on the move, and the PA said, "You've got an active peanut!" which is so cute I can hardly stand it. 

Yesterday I was having major stomach hurting going on - stretching? bloating? stretching + bloating? - and it was hurting my back, too, so I was not a happy camper. Shannon's response is likewise adorable: "Maybe that baby's just gotta dance and your womb needs to be more accommodating." Love it! 

Whatever the case, baby's movin' and groovin' in there, but I haven't felt anything just yet. At our appt. today, the PA guessed I'll feel something by about 20 weeks. It's generally later for first-timers than for women in their second or subsequent pregnancy, but she said since I'm slender I probably won't have to wait too much longer. Monday was 17 weeks, so . . . :O 

At any rate, our ultrasound for the anatomy check is scheduled for Dec. 22 - I'll be 19.5 weeks at that point - and we've decided to find out the baby's sex! As it gets closer, I'm getting antsy, but with my luck, baby will wiggle into an unhelpful position and we won't be able to see! 

As for the baby bump, nothing yet, but I have gained 6.5 lbs, so things are on track. This weekend, Brad and I went to the surprise party Amanda threw for her hubby's 30th birthday and she had the the cutest bump - I was a little jealous. She's 3 weeks behind me but since this is her second baby, she's naturally showing earlier. But it's okay, we'll get there eventually . . . and then I'll probably be complaining about how bad my back hurts, hehe. 

Quickest Rejection Ever

Scholarly journals are notorious for holding onto your submissions for way too long, keeping you in a sort of torturous limbo about whether or not you've got the "right stuff." (Sometimes I just need to throw in a little NKOTB to keep my spirits up). My most recent submission, however, was rejected at lightning speed: 8 days after I sent the manuscript off via e-mail, I received an e-mail back saying, "Thanks, but no no no thanks." In so many words. 

It could've been worse - they could've taken 2 or 3 or 4 or more months to let me know they'd rather pass. But it also could've been better, and not just b/c getting accepted (obviously!) would have been ideal. The comments that I received from the editor both seemed to miss the point of contributing new scholarship to the field and the topic of my article, which made yesterday not only disappointing but also totally frustrating and mildly infuriating. 

Let me illustrate with a produce example: 

I wrote my paper, we'll say, on the wilting of romaine lettuce. First, the editor of said journal responded that wilting is a "theme" only "fitfully" under discussion in the criticism about romaine lettuce. To which I would respond (were I able to respond), "Yes, and not even 'fitfully.' No one's talking about it, and it's useful. That's why I brought it up." The point of scholarly commentary, as I understand it, is to further the conversation about and understanding of the topic at hand by developing already existing avenues of discussion and introducing and exploring new ones

The other majorly dumb comment was that editor had hoped to read an in-depth discussion of why there are so few varieties of greens available in produce section. Um, yes, well, great - but that's not even remotely my topic! And, as Butcher so eloquently put it: "There are a ton of greens in the produce section." Indeed there are. (Iceberg, spring mix, field greens, raddichio, just to name a few.) 

He might as well have said he was hoping to read a piece on Sense and Sensibility rather than something about a contemporary American novel. 

Everyone's always talking about how helpful reviewer's comments can be in the writing process. But what about when they're not? All this did was tick me off. The only legitimate comments he made were that 1.  he doesn't think the topic is impt. enough to sustain article-length treatment - an opinion he's entitled to, but that I and the professor with whom I worked on the paper disagree (in fact, she keeps encouraging me to make the paper longer) and 2.  that I offer only a "pat" discussion of people's responses to wilted lettuce. 

The first I will have to simply ignore, and the second, well, I don't actually disagree with him. I had about 4 more pages of stuff on the topic, which my prof. said to cut - so I did. Who's right and who's wrong? Only time will tell: I'm going to take the advice a former professor gave me years ago and send the thing out again ASAP (though the places I'm looking at have slooooooow response times, and many of them require snail mail submission - boo, get into the 21st century!). 

The very first time I played this game, back in late 2008/early 2009, it took the journal I submitted to 3 months to tell me that they didn't even send my article to reviewers. It was like the hugest slap in the face, and I believe there were tears (and probably many). I was ready to chuck the thing in a drawer and forget about it. 

But my professor told me not to do it; he found a journal I could submit to via e-mail, making the process almost painless, and said to just send the thing out without making even one change. So I did it. And five days later, that journal wrote back - and they wanted my piece just as it was. Just goes to show: it's possible to get accepted even faster than you get rejected.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Not Just for Kids: a Theory of Flavor Selection

Apparently I am five years old b/c my husband dumped my bag of Starbursts (yum yum) into a Rubbermaid container to make it easier for me "to pick my flavors." While it makes me feel not a little bit juvenile, I have to say, it's an ingenious idea. My prior method - of peering into the too-small hole I ripped in the corner of the bag and digging my too-big hand in to grab the ones I want - wasn't the most feasible, and three cheers to Brad for his innovation. 

Anyway, this color picking points to a process to which I have decided to adhere with some fervor from here on out, after trying it out recently and feeling quite satisfied. 

You see, like many folks, I prefer to red Starbursts to the other flavors, and I really don't care for the yellow. Whenever I eat a delicious red one and stumble upon a yellow or even an orange one next, it takes my taste experience from fab to flub. 

So I have resolved to eat all of the red ones first. While this might sound, again, like the plan of a five-year-old, hear me out, b/c there is, as always, method to my madness.

Once all of the reds are gone, I then move onto the pink. Pink is my second favorite flavor (yeah, it's a flavor, okay?) and, as the best option remaining, I'm quite happy to have pink Starbursts in my pantry. Then when all the pinks are gone - yep, you guessed it, I'm onto the oranges, and compared with those yellow ones, the orange is pretty delish. 

Those do not look appetizing 
At the end of this several-day-long process, I'm left with those yucky yellows, which tend to sit there for a few weeks. But, eventually, when packing my lunch/dinner for a long day at school, I look in the cabinet and see those yellow ones and think, "Well, those won't be looking too bad tonight at about 8:00 in class," and I toss them in. And, sure enough, come 8:00 on a Thursday night, I'm happy to have those sweet yellow squares at the bottom of my bag. 

And so it is that you can best enjoy your bursts of flavor - without ultimately wasting a one of 'em. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's amazing that we make it through the day without an instruction guide

From the other room I hear, "You know what I'd really like to get?" 

"Oh great," I say, excepting something expensive and/or absurd. "What?" 

Brad appears in the living room. "I forget what they're called. One of those plastic bins you use to carry laundry up and down the stairs." 

I pause a second, b/c this seems nearly impossible. Then I say, "You mean, a laundry basket?" 

"Oh, yeah!" he responds. 

Me, with narrowed eyes: "We have one of those somewhere." 

Oh, wow, a plastic bin that you use to carry 
laundry up and down the stairs! 

Old Good News

I'm doing just about everything I can to avoid working on my critical history for medieval lit., which includes writing a blog post that I meant to write in August and every month since. As an aside completely unrelated to the topic of this post, however, I would just like to note that 

a. critical histories are ridiculous; 
b. I don't even know what I'm supposed to be doing; 
c. regardless of a. and b., writing this is still a better option than writing a 20-30 page legitimate paper on medieval literature about which, after an entire semester of sitting through almost 3 hours of class a week, I still know nothing (beyond a few key concepts). 

Now that that's been handled, back to the good news. 

This summer, about 4/5 of the journal article I published at the end of '09 got reprinted in a book. I had no idea this was happening - no one contacted me in advance, which is surprising despite the fact that the journal publisher owns the rights to my article and can therefore do as it pleases. It just seems like good form to let authors know their work is going to appear elsewhere. 

In fact, that only reason I found out is b/c I have a vain habit (I can admit it's a bit ridiculous) of Googling my name and, lo and behold, the new book came up in my results. 

Look - that might be me
in there! 
I proceeded to contact the book's publisher to request a contributor's copy, and they kindly complied. So I'm in a book. And it's on my shelf.

The two coolest things about this experience are, first, that the general editor of the collection is only like one of the most famous critics in the world of English literature. Love him or hate him, you know who he is. I, for one, happen to love him. (Nevermind the fact that he probably had actually nothing to do with picking my piece.) 

And the second is the fact that the excerpt of my article is the second longest in the book, which contains excerpts from a bunch of articles. Like, it's way longer than most of the excerpts. So I feel cool. 

That's my old good news. At this point I'm nearly out of excuses for not doing my work. Nearly.

He really said this

Brad gets home from grocery shopping a little bit ago and begins putting things away in a rush of lunacy. I sort of just sit there and watch and chat with him. At the tail-end of the effort, it occurs to me that perhaps I should lend a hand. But now there's not really anything left to do. Unprompted, I announce, 

Me: "I loaded the dishwasher and cleaned up the kitchen while you were gone. I do my part." 

Him: "I know you do." 

Me: "Baby doesn't do his/her part." (Yeah, I just said that - real mature, I know.) 

Him: "Oh, he or she will have plenty of chores when they're big. [Pause.] I'm already looking forward to it." 

Me: [Laughing.] "Are you serious?" 

Him: "Is that weird?" 

No no, completely normal. What expectant parent doesn't think, "Ohhhhh, how great: in a bunch of years my kid'll be doing chores which means I'll have to do less!"?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Go ahead, rent Horrible Bosses

So b/c Brad is a Netflix slacker (i.e., he takes 3 days to send already-watched DVDs back), thus we didn't get two more discs of Law & Order season 8 in the mail today; and b/c I slept like crap and then had to spend the day on campus, thus resulting in super low motivation to do work tonight; we rented and watched Horrible Bosses by the light of the Christmas tree (well, and a lamp). 

We both had relatively low expectations, but, I'm pleased to say, it was actually pretty darn funny. Not think-of-it-5-days-later-and-start-randomly-cracking-up funny, but funny enough that one of us laughed at least every 4 minutes. Which isn't too bad at all, considering that most comedies are mildly disappointing at best. 

(It should be noted that Brad's claim that I "hate laughter" - simply b/c I always reject watching funny movies/shows in favor of dramas - is patently untrue: I spend a good part of every day laughing at people. So there.) 

The best part of the movie was the fact that a bunch of the minor characters were really famous actors - Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx (who was soooooo funny) - and the characters they played were pretty darn humorous. Plus it was fast-paced, and who doesn't love Jason Bateman?! 

Now, this movie is certainly no The Hangover or Dodgeball or Wedding Crashers, but it is a good Friday night $1 pick (gotta love Redbox). It has successfully withstood our "No More Wasting Our Lives on Crappy TV/Movies," a policy we instituted (and have basically stuck with since) this summer after one too many horrid time-wasters from Netflix streaming. The basic gist: if you'd like a light-hearted laugher, drop a dollar and you'll even get to see Bunk from The Wire fame.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Score! Double Score!

Responses from the Louisville Conference on Culture and Literature since 1900 went out today . . . I got accepted for both panels I submitted to! 

For most conferences you're only allowed to submit to one panel, but Louisville has creative panels as well as the traditional critical panels - which means I'm going to be reading a critical paper and then, at another time, reading my fiction as well! Score! 

No, Louisville isn't the greatest conference in the world, nor is it the hardest to get into. But, most of the people in my dept. who applied last year got in, so if I didn't get in this year (I didn't apply last year), I would have felt sad. And after all those rejections last school year (5!), I'm flying high over another acceptance. 

Looks pretty! 
Plus, Louisville's relatively close (though not so close that driving in the car in possibly crappy February weather while 6 months pregnant won't be a pain) and registration and hotel accommodations aren't terribly expensive (though not "cheap"). 

So I'm siked. Butcher's going, too, and I'm guessing a bunch of other peeps from my dept. who I've yet to talk to (it was a chaotic, student conference-filled day). And Brad's coming! He'll get to the be my chauffeur :). Which makes me even happier, b/c I pretty much hate having to drive. Hopefully it won't be too cold and we can do some sight-seeing. Wonder what the temperature in Kentucky is in late February . . . .

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why I love Bob Costas

As if his years of stellar - and hilarious - Olympic coverage and the fact that he hasn't aged in 20 years weren't sufficient, tonight on Monday Night Football, Steelers vs. Chiefs, Bob Costas busted out the following line: 

"We live in a culture that in many ways grows more stupid and graceless by the minute . . . . " 

The man's got his finger on the pulse of America. 

My boy Costas then continued by commenting on the absurd, obnoxious, ridiculous celebrations that go on in the NFL end zone or after a sack, etc., a critique with which I could not agree anymore whole-heartedly (and I'm guessing most NFL fans are with me). 

Before closing, Costas offered another gem, saying, "Hey knuckleheads, is it too much to ask that you confine your buffoonery to situations that don't directly damage your team?" 

Is he 30? 40? 50? 
I do believe those knuckleheads were just Costa-cized

Yep, Costa-cized. That's a term Brad and I coined during the '06 Torino Winter Olympics to describe the phenomenon of a Bob Costas zing! - beautifully exemplified by his commentary during the male cross-country relay event:

 "Truly a warm moment on a cold and snowy night in Torino. The hometown fans just loving this. And I'm loving this Christian Zorzi, the anchorman on the relay team. He was nicknamed 'Zorro' in Salt Lake after an individual bronze medal performance when he donned a cape and a mask. Which is pretty much what I like to do after what I consider a successful broadcast." 

Isn't he refreshingly fab? I think Brad just summed it up quite well: "Oh, Costas, he's a rascal." 

Baby Furniture!

I should be working on the most pointless end-of-semester project ever (sigh), but instead I'm geeking out over awesome baby furniture online and getting ideas for the nursery - as if I don't already have a million. 

Of course I'm not planning on buying any of this lovely over-priced stuff. No no no, that's not thrifty old me. I'll be looking for second-hand and imitation styles to save mucho moola. In fact, I've already found some - and it's proof that you can find great stuff at great prices if you put in a little (sometimes a lot of) effort and have patience. 

Case in point: after searching online like 7 different times over the past few months, last week I found this amazing rocker on Craigslist, and the next day Brad went to the city to see it (I was too sick), liked it, and snagged it for less than $70. Sciz-ore! 

Isn't it fabulous? It's in great condition, so comfy, and rocks super smoothly. Plus, it's a light khaki color - i.e., totally neutral and goes with anything. 

While the typical nursery-style rocker/gliders are nice (and Amanda's is quite comfortable), they're not really my style.

Dorel rocker from Target 
I wanted something that looks like - for lack of a better word - real furniture. As in, furniture I might have elsewhere in my house. And hopefully, once the baby gets older, I will have this elsewhere in my house! 

Anyway, the inspiration for our rocker was the Pottery Barn Dream Rocker, which PB stopped making recently and ran upwards of $800 (yiiiiiiikes!) but was supposed to be super comfortable. It also reminds me of a current rocker at PB, the Charleston rocker, which starts at $599 and goes up to $899 depending on the fabric. The Charleston has an $80 delivery surcharge - that's more than the price of our rocker! 

PB's Charleston rocker 
The room we'll be turning into the baby's room, which is across the hall from our bedroom and currently the second bedroom, is 10x12. So, it's a fairly good size, though obviously not huge. I was a tad worried that an upholstered rocker might be too big, but it fits beautifully and I'm sooooooo happy with our purchase! Hopefully the little one will love it as much as we do!

Oh, for a Turkey Tom; or, Pregnancy Cravings?

No, that's not a reference to Thanksgiving (though Happy belated Turkey Day!) - it's actually a reference to a Jimmy John's sandwich. A delicious 8-inch turkey sandwich on a French hoagie roll, with shredded lettuce, tomato, provolone, and mayo, minus the sprouts. Super fresh, super basic, and super good. I think I could eat 2 right this second. And then 2 tomorrow. 
But no rest for the weary and no lunch meat for the pregnant. Unless of course you're going to heat it to 160 degrees which is not part of the Turkey Tom recipe. (Although I did read in Pregnancy and Newborn magazine recently that some doctors say you've got about next to no chance of actually getting listeria from deli meat.) 

I know: a turkey sub doesn't exactly sound like a wacky pregnancy craving. I don't even think it really counts as a "craving" beyond "I haven't had Jimmy John's in like forever and I thought of it the other day and now really, really want one." B/c they are so good.

Brad and I used to eat Turkey Toms sometimes once a week while I was getting my master's, but there aren't any JJ's in my local area (although there is one in Oakland). I guess that's a plus right now b/c at least it's not taunting me on a daily basis. 

Anyway, what I want to know is what's the deal with these goofy pregnancy cravings I've always heard so much about? 

Are they legit? Are they coming my way soon or do I get a pass or are they really just exaggerated by people and the media? I certainly haven't had one ounce of desire for something like peanut butter on pickles or ketchup in my ice cream or chicken with cream cheese. (Although I have consumed all six of those foods/condiments separately while being pregnant). That stuff sounds just as gross as it did beforehand. 

Is it possible that I'm being weird by being, well, normal? Okay, maybe not totally normal: I would pay a small fortune and walk a mile, even with this persistant cold, if I could have a Turkey Tom right now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Best and Worst in Politics this Week

The "Best" award goes to a real headline that sounds both like it's straight out of The Onion and completely accurate: 

"Fox News Viewers Known Less Than People Who Don't Watch Any News: Study" 

Maybe I should clue my dad in - ? He watches all the new channels though (constantly), so maybe he's breaking even. 

And the "Worst" award goes to Herman Cain for declaring that should he be elected president (dear goodness, please no) he will do whatever he can to defund Planned Parenthood. Yeah, sounds like a great idea. NOT. How do these idiots get into the position to run for the most powerful job in the world?! 

Guess my politics are pretty obvious at this point :). 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

To Plant a Garden

Home sick with a sore throat and cold, sneering at the ugly weather (there's a flood watch for tonight, for crying out loud!), and thinking about greener, sunnier days to come. And gardens. 

Flowers and fruits and veggies. Green and yellow peppers, violets, lillies, daisies, watermelon, tomatoes, and more and more and more. 

I'd like to plant a garden (not right this second, obviously), something I never imagined myself saying, but I actually have no idea how to go about doing so. Of course I can look online and find 300 different ways, but it's curious to me that I've made it this far in life, almost three decades, and I don't know where to begin. 

This isn't a metaphorical garden I'm talking about. I'm talking real garden: dirty hands and knees, bugs (ick), the smell of flora and produce. I'm talking questions like, Do we have a proper place? The right kind of soil? When is the optimal time? Can you grow XYZ in this climate? 

I guess I do know where to start: by recognizing my total lack of knowledge and asking questions. But it still seems odd that something so, well, natural, something I read about and see all around should be such a mystery to me. 

It seems like such a complicated task - to plant things, shield them from the weather and insects, make them grow, harvest and enjoy them - and yet so completely simple. There are probably many things like that: simple, ordinary things that boggle the mind (or at least my mind). 

I'd like to plant and tend a garden, see (literally) the fruits of my labor, feel pride when little seeds turn into something much more, feel a bit of peace being in nature. Maybe this spring I'll find a little patch of earth in the backyard and try my hand at making some good things grow. It can't go any worste than the potted tomato/cucumber/pepper failure of this past summer . . . .

Sunday, November 13, 2011


No, not the television show. I've actually never even seen it, though Jane Lynch is pretty awesome. I'm talking about the emotion - as in, I'm experiencing glee everytime I think about how I only have 4 more night classes ever to attend as a student

Doesn't that just sound fan-freaking-tabulous?! 

That's right, this Monday and Thursday and the Monday and Thursday after Thanksgiving and then my night-class student tenure is OFFICIALLY OVER. (You better believe I'm counting down.) Sure, I might have to teach night classes in the future, but that's different b/c, well, b/c it just is. (Haha.) 

It's truly hard for me to convey just how sick of coursework I am. I have spent 11.5 years in post secondary education at this point - all the while taking classes. ELEVEN AND A HALF YEARS! Next semester I will finish up my last 3 credits of coursework out of the classroom - doing an independent reading with my drama professor (this is studying plays, not performing them) - and I'll start writing my lists for my comprehensive exams. 

Will things get easier? Surely no. But I cannot wait to not be stuck on campus until 9 p.m. and then have to drive nearly an hour home! This is joyous! Smile with me! Glee, I tell you! Glee! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

CSB: 6 Months

Back in May, I put myself on a 365-day Clothes Shopping Ban b/c I decided that I have more than enough clothes already, more than enough I never or rarely wear, and not nearly enough money to be buying any more unnecessarily. 

It's been 5 months and 28 (or 29) days since then, and I haven't bought one single piece of clothing. Not one shirt. Not one pair of jeans. Not one dress or skirt or sweater or pair of shorts or jacket. I haven't even bought a sports bra. Not at a regular store and not at a thrift store and not online. Though believe me, there were some dicey moments (such as when Gap in June had "40% off all sale items" and Brad had to drag me out of the Waterfront Gap while I salivated and made up various excuses for why it was reasonable for me to shop). 

The only "apparel"-y things I bought were new running shoes - which were a health necessity considering I got runner's knee from wearing my too-old ones - and a $5 real leather Kenneth Cole purse from Goodwill (and, actually, my mom paid for the latter), but shoes and accessories weren't part of my ban anyway. 

On Monday it will be 6 months, meaning I'm halfway there. But, as one might have guessed, I'm going to need maternity clothes in the not-so-distant future. As I said to Butcher the other day after I ate dinner in the office and my pants chastised me for doing so, "Size 0 American Eagle skinny jeans are not made for pregnant people." I've been wearing my regular clothing up till now, and in the morning everything fits fine. But there's something about being pregnant and eating - after a day's worth of food, you really look pregnant and your pants second that motion. 

With week 14 fast approaching, I'm not too far away from needing some new jeans. So, the plan is a Thanksgiving break Target-a-thon, where they've got the adorable Liz Lange maternity collection. It's not likely that maternity pants are going to come anywhere close to fitting me at this point as I haven't even gained five pounds, but I guess that's where a Bella Band (or a knock-off) comes in, so I'll pick one of those up, too. 

I couldn't be happier about breaking the clothing ban - after all, it's b/c I'm having a baby! The truth is, though, that at about 1 month into this whole thing I was like, "No way am I doing this for a whole year. This stinks. Six months is more than enough." Now I just have a good excuse :). 

Even so, I'm pretty proud. I saved us a ton of money (which we then turned around and spent on the house, haha) and got a lot more wear out of the items I do have. I'm sure I will savor shopping for clothes at least a little more now, and even though I already bought nearly everything on the cheap, I'm sure I'll be a bit more spending conscious. 

Grading = Tedious

What happens when you get 16 student papers on a Thursday, grade two on Sunday and not one more through the following Thursday? Well, you get to spend the weekend grading the 14 others, that's what. 

Every time I get a batch of papers, I say to myself, "I'm going to grade three of these a day, or at least two, so that it does not become overwhelming and stressful and make me want to weep." Every. Single. Time. 

Never once have I actually done that - although one time, last year, I think, I came rather close. But even that seems so vague it may have been a dream. 

And believe me, I'm not the only one who feels this way. I've never met a teacher who likes grading, and most loathe it. Butcher and I spent not a little bit of time on the phone last night gasping about grading instead of, well, actually grading. 

Why is grading papers so tedious? Here are a few reasons: 

- students just disregard various elements of the assignment. 

- they ignore your directives. We're not talking about suggestions like, "Maybe consider this angle," but things along the lines of, "Take that summary paragraph out; there's not supposed to be any summary in this paper." 

- students don't proofread, and a good bit of their writing sounds like talking, but writing isn't supposed to sound like talking b/c when someone is talking she gives you all sorts of cues and clues that writing does not give you, therefore allowing you to follow the conversation. 

And it just takes a long time. Every now and again you get a good paper, one that fulfills the requirements of the assignment with energy and creativity and readable English. Unfortunately, one of those every 7 or 8 papers isn't enough to keep your spirits up. 

I don't know if it's like this with upper-level courses; I desperately hope not, though of course there will always be students who don't want to write the paper, don't put effort into it, etc. Sometimes, I can't even blame students in freshman comp. for being disengaged from the material - after enough time teaching this class it's hard not to ask, "Why are we teaching them this?" 

But then I start grading the papers, and I realize they've got to improve their writing somehow and sooner rather than later would be ideal. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wow. Just wow

Brad and I just heard the most wonderful sound: our baby's heartbeat. 

Yep - I'm pregnant! 

It was so wild, hearing that thumpthumpthumpthump, loud and fast. We taped it with my digital recorder, and when we listen to it, we can't help smiling. That's our baby. Wow. Like, geeze. 

Quick stats: I'm just over 13 weeks along, due mid-May. We've known since early in Sept., when not one, not two, but three pregnancy tests (over the course of about 18 hrs.) showed us 2 pink lines. It took 11 months of trying and happened the month before we were going to start Clomid. And I've been sick for almost 7 weeks. No throwing up, but a constant stomach ache for about 5 weeks which was replaced by horrid, near constant tension headaches (exacerbated by pregnancy hormones) about two weeks ago. 

Not much of a belly yet, but I have gained 3.5 lbs.! 
So, I've felt better (and I've looked better - my rosacea is terrible right now). But it's okay, b/c I am beyond thrilled. Beyond beyond beyond thrilled. Finally! How exciting! And Brad's favorite refrain is a half-shouted "I can't wait for baby!" 

We're having a baby. It's simply wonderful. 

Cookie Dough

What was once a skinny, greasy, kinda sickly looking shelter kitty 

is now a plump, furry, sweetheart of a housecat. 

This little fatty (as we affectionately call her) went from just 7 lbs. to a whopping 9.3 lbs since the end of June. Let's just say she's not shy about eating. At all. It's only fitting that Brad this morning nicknamed her "Cookie Dough."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Words cannot express how awesome this is

Though I am decidedly not pro-princess fairytale (save the saving for small animals!), this is simply fabulous: 

Don't ask me where it's from. I won't tell you that it's from Pinterest, even if you suspect it may be . . . . 

(And, as an admission, I love The Little Mermaid. Sentimental favorite. Even if there is so much un-feminist b.s. in there.) 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Why Pinterest is Daaaaaangerous

If you're anything like me, the internet could suck your entire day away and the only way you'd know anything had happened was the raging headache/neckache/backache that comes from sitting in front of the laptop for 6+ hours. 

I've had my share of internet addictions over the years: eBay, Craigslist, decor/design blogs, clothing websites (esp. J. Crew). And let me tell you, they're fun and they're not fun. 

So naturally, as I've seen mention after mention of Pinterest - the "online pinboard" where you save pics of things you love - on some of my fave. home decor blogs recently, I've been both intrigued and wary. Pinterest is open for everyone to see and comment on, meaning that you save whatever kind of pictures you want and organize them however you want, and other people can browse through your board. They can also re-pin things to their own board. 

Why does this make me wary? Well, b/c it sounds like exactly the sort of thing I could get addicted to. A good board would be like a home magazine with all the ads and articles eliminated - just picture after picture of beautiful rooms and furniture and, basically, great ideas. Or, maybe picture after picture of cool clothes, outfits I want to replicate, pieces I covet, must-have styles. 

See why it's oh-so-very dangerous? Sounds like the sort of thing an internet junkie like myself could lose whole weekends to. 

Until about 15 minutes ago, I've managed to stay away from Pinterest and all it's enticing pictures. But I decided to check it out - I mean, for purely educational purposes - and while I must admit I don't quite understand the nuts and bolts (like, how do you search for things?), I like what I see. 

I will, however, temper myself and keep that pointer finger - which is itching to click click click the mouse - in check. I'll grade papers, since it's Sunday, and I haven't done a bit of work all weekend. I'll put yesterday's Target purchases in their new rightful places. I'll . . . do something other than scour lovely photos. At least till later :).

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Friday 4: Best Trader Joe's Products

Until this spring I'd never knowingly tasted a Trader Joe's product, and until this summer, I'd never stepped foot in the store. But on a city adventure this summer, Brad and I stopped by the Pittsburgh store, which is located in the new posh area of posh Shadyside (where all the cool hipsters live). I'd been jonesin' for my very own bottle of Pear Cinnamon Cider, which my modernist poetry professor brought to class one day in the spring. I must've drunk half the bottle that day . . . . 

Brad was skeptical that this was going to be another Whole Foods,* and honestly I wasn't totally sure it wouldn't be, but we went anyway and were both very pleasantly surprised. It was a whole lot smaller than I'd expected, and the customers were super not-friendly. But the staff is awesome, and the prices are super reasonable. Plus, they've got a bunch of products (almost all of which are their own brand) that I just haven't seen elsewhere (though, to be fair, I was never really looking). 

We've at least liked nearly everything we've gotten there, and loved a whole lot of it. Below are my four favorites. TJ's products have become a semi-staple (it's hard to get over there, otherwise we'd go bi-weekly) in our diets.Check out a TJ's if there's one local. 

4.  Trader Joe's Mini Chicken Tacos 

I ate too many of these the first two times we bought them (surprise surprise - bah), so I'm sick of them, but Brad loves them, and they are surprisingly tasty and easy to make (8 min. in the oven), and they're not soggy. We always eat them as-is, but I'm sure they'd be delicious with some shredded cheese as per the picture on the front of the package. 

I want to say the box of mini tacos is $3.99 (?), but it could be a little more. Even so, it's not a bad price at all, and there's way less sodium in TJ's frozen products than in typical frozen products. 

3.  Trader Joe's Pear Cinnamon Cider 

At $2.99 a bottle, this isn't one of the best-priced items TJ's has to offer, but it's so tasty and different I can't leave it off the list. It's sweet with a bit of a kick (but not too much kick) and not like your usual bottled juice. 

(Brad just commented, "That would be one of my favorites, too, if I were ever allowed to have any." It's true: I'm stingy. But you have to understand just how much I adore this cider.) 

2.  Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce 

I think this stuff goes for about $1.99. Maybe $2.49. It's delish. I am not a daring eater, and of the, oh, three (?) Indian dishes I've tried, chicken tikka masala is my faaaaaavorite. 

TJ's sauce is thinner than what you get at an Indian place, and it does have a bit less spice. But we've found the trick is to not add any water, because when you cook the chicken (in the skillet), the juices from the chicken will already thin out the sauce. (The directions on the jar say to add a jar's worth of water - DO NOT!). 

As an additional note, we pair the chicken with TJ's jasmine rice. We've never found a better price on jasmine rice, and, as with all rice, Brad (for some reason) has the most success cooking it in the microwave. Just be sure to rinse it out well beforehand! 

1.  Trader Ming's Mandarin Orange Chicken 

This is by far the best not-from-a-Chinese-restaurant-Chinese-food I've ever had. It actually tastes like Chinese food, which I can't say for any of the other frozen Chinese bag meals I've consumed. And believe me, that number is higher than I'd like to admit. 

The chicken comes out crispy, there's nearly enough sauce (instead of the usual absolutely-not-enough), and the flavor is delicious. It doesn't actually taste like orange chicken you'd get at a Chinese restaurant, but it does taste like authentic something (very exact description, I know). 

There are three servings in a bag, and we actually parse it out into 3 servings - we each have one and save the other for the next time - so at $4.99 a bag, that's a pretty cheap meal considering all you need to add is white rice. 

*No offense to Whole Foods-lovers. They've got great produce and meat and some other nifty stuff, and when we had the money (rarely) or I was on a three-day health binge (more frequently) back when we lived in the city, Brad and I would head on down to the Whole Foods in Shadyside and stock up. But their prices are beyond outrageous, and the air of superiority floating around that place and in a 50-foot radius is unreal

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Unreasonable question

Can I take, oh, like 3 months off from school to craft fun things and decorate my house?

. . . 

Oh, no? That's not feasible? Darn you, Reality. You're such a bum. 

In leiu of that enjoyable prospect, how about a quick picture (details to follow) of the dining room drapes I finally finished last night. I started this project - which involved fabric dying, ribbon, and stitch witchery - in, oh, July? Let me tell you - it was one tedious effort. But so worth it when you consider the cost (less than $25 for a pair of floor-length drapes) and the finished result! 

Alright, off to Amanda's for the day, then a poetry reading with Butcher tonight . . . just like a good grad student. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pottery Barn Vanessa Bedding

So I'm super siked: I just ordered the PB queen duvet cover and matching shams in the blue Vanessa print on eBay for $49.99 + shipping! What a steal! 

On the PB website, the duvet cover (in full/queen) alone is $129 and the shams are $39 a piece. That's $207 - meaning I saved $157! And me, the super second-hand shopper, totally doesn't mind that this set is pre-owned - I'm not sleeping on it! 

This set it beautiful, and I've had my eye on it for like a year and a half. But I just couldn't bear spending the money, and I've never found a good enough deal on eBay (until today). Just yesterday I gave in and re-bought the Simply Shabby Chic set at Target that I've really liked since this summer ("re-bought" b/c months ago we bought it, I decided I didn't want to spend the money on it, and we returned it). 

But, it has pink (which Brad and I both oppose), it was $90, and I love the Vanessa print so so much more. Plus the Vanessa set was almost $30 less. Basically, I'm really pleased with myself right now (haha). 

Here's to happy bedroom decorating! 

Taming the Caffeine Beast (Day 1)

So I've decided - for about the 20th time in my life - to get my caffeine consumption a bit more under control. Though this is possibly the first time I've ever decided to do so without maintaining the lofty (and never-reached) goal of cutting it out completely. 

The motivation behind this is pretty simple: I've been getting awful caffeine headaches of late. Yes, I've had my share of caffeine headaches in the past, but these past few weeks they've been wicked - and sometimes all I need is a glass of Snapple (we're talking a measly 20-25 mg of caffeine) to calm them down. 

So why cut back instead of just drinking the Snapple? Well, it's frustrating to be drinking caffeine and then, a few hours later, need to drink more even if I'm not in the mood for it or it's too late in the day or there are no caffeinated beverages conveniently located. 

Basically, I'm aiming to make myself less caffeine-dependent without totally cutting my ties. I do, after all, love my Starbucks :). 

Right now, an average day looks like this: 

-2 cans of Mt. Dew (55 mg each) + a 16 oz. bottle of Snapple (42 mg) = 152 mg 
-a medium caramel Frappucino (75 mg) + 1 can of Mt. Dew (55 mg) + a glass of Snapple (20 mg) = 170 mg 
  or, occassionally 
-a medium iced caramel machiatto (150 mg) + 1 can of Mt. Dew (55 mg) = 205 mg 

So b/t 150 and 200. Fair enough, and equivalent to about 2 cups of regular coffee. But if I'm not in the mood for another Mt. Dew (which has happened a lot lately, actually) or we're out of Snapple or I forget how long ago I drank something caffeinated . . . whoa, holy heck, the caffeine headache rolls in and knocks me on my butt. 

After doing a bit of reading today, it seems the best strategy is to cut back by 25% for a week, then 25% more of the original amount for the next week, etc., until you've reached your goal. Since I like my pop and love my Starbucks, I'm only looking to get myself to, say 50-75 mg a day - about one caffeinated beverage. Hopefully I'll be there by Thanksgiving. 

My first step? Keeping myself at 150 mg for the next week. Which means, sadly, no caramel machiattos. But that's okay b/c after years of not getting frappucinos, I've been on a frap kick for a while now anyway. Wish me luck! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's snowing. On October 29th. Um?

This seems a bit early. And a bit extreme. A little early morning frost? Okay. I can live with that. But this? We just spent three hours working in the yard last Sunday, and now I can't even see the yard . . . .