Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Oh, Christmas tree

Pat and I always get a live tree for Christmas. This year I thought it would be a great idea if we went and cut down our own Christmas tree instead of buying one that was pre-cut. And by "we" I mean, I will pick out the tree that I want and then Pat will do all of the work to cut it down and get it back to our car. That probably goes without saying, but I just wanted to be clear.

Last Saturday afternoon we loaded up the car with a few different saws, some rope and work gloves and headed to the destination I found online for cutting down your own Christmas tree. As we were driving by the very busy shopping plaza in the busy part of Avon and the map on my phone showed that we were less than a mile away from our destination, I did question where there could possibly be a tree farm close by that was big enough to go out and cut down your own tree. But I found the place on google so it must be real, right?

Lucky for me, Pat thinks through situations better than I do so when we pulled into the parking lot filled with trees that had already been cut down, Pat knew better than to jump out of the car with his saw right away (that probably would have scared the teenage girl half to death). Instead, he assessed the situation first and asked her where you go to cut down your own tree. "Oh, we're not doing that this year. Sorry."

As someone who is responsible for updating the website at work - and get numerous phone calls if there is old and outdated information on the site (and by old, I mean like a few days or a week old) - I find it pretty unacceptable that a business has had 12 months to update their website with important information about whether or not you will be allowing people to cut down their own trees. Anyway, in the true Christmas spirit we decided not to boycott their business and not buy one of their pre-cut trees and instead set out to find somewhere else where we could cut our own tree down.

Turns out, unless we wanted to drive 45 minutes away (which we did not have time to do), we were out of luck. So instead we went and got some lunch and then stopped at the first place we saw on our way home. And we ended up with this beauty right here. I was a little disappointed we didn't get to cut it down ourselves but it is the prettiest and biggest tree we've ever had so I was still quite excited about it.

And when we got home, Pat had to cut a little bit off the bottom of the tree anyway so if you look at this picture, it almost appears as if Pat actually is cutting the tree down himself, right? Disregard the fact that the picture is taken in our front yard. Minor detail.

So it turns out the bigger the tree, the heavier it is. Who knew? It was a little bit harder to get this bad boy into our house and up in the stand so we didn't have enough time to do anything else to it in order to make it to our couples bowling league on time (yes, this is what happens when you get married - your Saturdays turn in to cleaning your house, buying your Christmas tree and participating in a couples bowling league equipped with your own bowling shoes, ball stored in a couples bag).

The next day was Pat's birthday so the tree wasn't going to get decorated until at least Monday night...

To be continued...

Monday, December 05, 2011

Tis the season

I had am amazing Thanksgiving. It is one of my favorite holidays. Such a relaxing day filled with great food and even greater family. We were able to squeeze in some time with all three of our families and it was great. The five days off of work wasn't awful either. :)

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas season is officially here. I've never been one to mix the holidays so I don't like thinking about decorating for Christmas or listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving is over. And now that it is; it's game on.

I have already listened to the complete album of Glee Christmas no less than four times. And this morning, I reached an all-time low (even for me) when the song on the album, "Last Christmas" actually moved me to tears. I know. I'm a loser. This point was proven a few weeks ago when one of the students at the school where I work told me I was a loser because I like Glee. I put my L to my forehead and proudly proclaimed my Gleekiness. I love the show and I love their Christmas album and I'm not ashamed of either. What I am ashamed of, though, is that the album has not left the CD player in my car since "last Christmas." Am I lazy or what?

Once again, I am hand making my own Christmas cards. Each year I get really excited to start them and then when I'm about halfway finished, I ask myself "Why didn't I just buy my cards?" But, when they are all finished (all 60 of them!), I will once again be glad that I took the time to make them.

Do you make your own Christmas cards? Better yet, do you even send Christmas cards at all? Many people don't. Personally, I am still a big fan of snail mail and keeping that system going. I love checking our mail every day and I love it even more when there is something other than bills in there. Postage is expensive and making and sending cards is time consuming, but it's a labor of love and one that I'm not quite ready to give up. Hopefully people enjoy receiving them as much as I enjoy making them. That's what it's all about, after all!

Once I'm finished with our Christmas cards, I really need to get moving on my Christmas shopping. I am usually one who tries to Christmas shop throughout the year. Not so much this year. I have one gift. Just one. Every time I come home from the store, I come with more wrapping paper and no gifts to wrap in it. I'm really particular about my wrapping paper. I like it to be really bright and fun so when I find something that meets my criteria, I snag it. In addition to the six rolls I've purchased this year, upon getting our Christmas decorations down from the attic, I found nine more rolls from last year. Pat asked me if I plan to wrap up a roll of wrapping paper and give it as a gift. At this rate, I just might have to.

And last, but certainly not least, I have A LOT of baking I want to get done. As some of you may remember, it literally came down to the wire last year with my baking (read about it here). I even thought by starting the Sunday before Christmas that I was starting early and I would be done long before Christmas Eve. That wasn't the case so I guess I know I need to start even earlier this year. And I have two new desserts I want to add to the list: peanut butter fudge and these cute little things I found on Pinterest.

We did get our Christmas tree, too, but I'm saving that for my next post. Now that you're all caught up on where I stand with the holidays. What are you up to? Are you done with your Christmas shopping? If you are, keep it to yourself. We don't need any gloating. ;) Do you bake or cook around the holidays? If so, what? And when do you start baking? How early is too early?

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, do you have your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day outfits picked out? Or am I the only one who plans that type of thing? Any excuse for a new outfit, right?

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Black Friday project

Did you brave the crowds on Black Friday? We were driving home from my inlaw's around 11:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving night and couldn't believe all the people we saw lined up outside of the stores. Thanksgiving night was pretty cold, too, I might add.

I'm not here to judge anyone who shops on Black Friday because I can appreciate a good deal with the best of them. That being said, the picture the media paints of this day is pretty much like my worst nightmare. I hate crowded places, long lines and mean people. I saw the news reports about all of the Black Friday fights and violence, which only confirmed the negative picture in my mind about this shopping experience.

So instead of dealing with the crowds on Black Friday, we decided to take advantage of the unusually warm day and hang our Christmas lights. And by "we," I mean, Pat does all the work and I just hold the ladder. Someone has to do it, right? As we were testing the lights, though, we realized each strand was half broken. After I finished kicking myself for not buying lights after Christmas last year when they were 50% off, we ventured out into the craziness that was Black Friday.

Pat went to Home Depot to get more lights and I went to JoAnn fabrics for scrapbooking paper to start my Christmas cards. The line was longer than I have ever seen there! I was instantly regretting my decision to go there until I realized the frames were on sale for 65% off. That is a HUGE deal and I was in the market for some frames. A few months ago, I pinned this on Pinterest.

I received a wooden letter R for Christmas last year and have been waiting for the perfect way and place to hang it. As always, Pinterst gave me a great idea and solution.

So when I saw the frames were on sale for 65%, I jumped at the chance to finally make this project happen. My one and only Black Friday purchase provided my once bare wall with this new decor.

What do you think?
I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. And the best part? I saved $60! Lucky for me, even though JoAnn was pretty busy, they had every cash register open and the line went super fast. It was a painless and productive shopping trip that didn't result in me getting sprayed with pepper spray. That's my kind of Black Friday shopping.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A day in the life of a Viking

For a long time now, the admissions director and I have been talking about getting a mascot for the high school where we work. All schools need a mascot, right? So we found a Viking mascot costume and ordered it a few weeks ago. The mascot came in the mail yesterday and as we were opening it in my office, I decided to try the head on. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was wearing the entire costume.

Laughing hysterically at me, the admissions director dared me to walk down the hallway in the mascot costume. To clarify, I asked her if it was a triple dog dare and she said yes. What else could I do? I never pass up triple dog dares. So I did it. Class was in session so there weren't a lot of kids in the hallways but the faculty and staff that we did run in to, were really enjoying the mascot. No one really knew it was me in there which I thought was even more fun.

At this point, school was going to dismiss in twenty minutes so we decided maybe it would be a good idea for me to stay in the costume and walk around the hallways to generate interest in auditioning for the role of mascot. I was really enjoying wearing it so I thought, what's thirty more minutes in it? I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

In a matter of ten minutes, I was almost tackled, manhandled, punched, flicked, had candy thrown at my face and suffered multiple attempts to be de-masked. I had no idea how much mascots bring out the very worst in people. Looking back, keeping my identity a secret while walking the halls in the mascot costume was not one of my better ideas. Most if not all of the students would have never treated me that way if they knew it was a staff member under the mask. For example, the girl who threw skittles at my face and punched me, when I finally yelled at her to "stop touching me," she immediately knew I was an adult and ran away.

Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of fun moments wearing the mascot, too. For example, when one student thought for sure they had figured out who was in the costume and then that person walked up next to them and they were totally confused. I also really enjoyed the students who were scared of the costume. Some students figured out it was me by my small hands and my "mannerisms." They said I walk and act a certain way (who knew?). But even when they were saying this, they still weren't 100% sure if they were right and that was really fun.

But overall, it was awful. I have a new respect for mascots that I never really appreciated before, including my brother-in-law who was Goofy and various other characters during his internship at Disney. I'm thinking about starting a support group. One thing is for sure, I will not be stepping foot in that Viking costume ever again.

Please remember, mascots have feelings, too.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The good old days

At work today, I received an email with an article titled, "21 signs you grew up in the 90s."  It was really funny and made me laugh out loud which was refreshing after a long week. I enjoyed number 12 the most, "How to get a Furby or Tamagotchi to shut up."

If I had to add a few things of my own, I would add:
  • Knowing the lyrics to the song, Da Dip. "I put my hand up on your hip. When I dip, you dip, we dip."
  • When TGIF meant coming home from school on Fridays to watch Family Matters, Step by Step and Full House.
It was quite ironic after reading this article about things from the 90s that I would come home after work to my husband sitting on our exercise ball in front of the TV, surrounded by an original Nintendo and a ton of cords and games. He was so excited I was home and couldn't wait to tell me what he was up to. "Guess what I got up and running? My old Nintendo from my parents. I thought we could have a happy hour game night."

My lack of excitement was utterly disappointing to him. He was really hoping that we could sit down together and enjoy some Tecmo Bowl and drink some beers. Just like the good old days. Well, minus the beer of course. Or maybe not?

But the truth is, I was never that into Nintendo. First of all, we weren't allowed to own one. When we did finally get one it wasn't until the rest of the world had moved on to Nintendo 2 and no one wanted their original Nintendos anymore. So my sister and I bought a Nintendo ourselves at a garage sale. Even then, I wasn't good at it and I hated the fact that two people couldn't play at once. These kids today don't realize how lucky they are to play games simultaneously with one another. I feel like I spent most of my time waiting for my turn. When I was finally up, my sister would encourage me to "follow the mushrooms down the hole" and I would die instantly and go back to waiting for my turn again.

Tonight was no exception. After seeing how disappointed Pat was with my lack of interest, I decided to sit down and give it a try. Besides, maybe I would be better with some liquid courage. Negative. Pat's disappointed with my lack of interest soon transferred into a disappointment with my lack of talent at video games. After a few rounds of losing right away in Paper Boy (how realistic is that game anyway? Seriously, tornadoes and the grim reaper come out of nowhere and kill you), I gave up on game night and instead curled up on the couch with our dog, who as it turns out, is absolutely terrified of the Nintendo. He doesn't like the noises it makes and he doesn't like all the foreign objects on the living room floor. I've never claimed he was brave.

As I sat on the couch, watching Pat in all of his glory, bobbing his head to the music of Tyson's Punch Out, game night in the Robinson household quickly came to an end with a bang. Literally. This photo was taken moments after the exercise ball popped while Pat was sitting on it playing Nintendo. When it broke, Pat crashed to the floor landing directly on one of the points of Grady's deer antler. I'm probably not going to win any wife of the year awards for first taking a picture of him laying on the ground screaming in pain before ever asking if he was okay.

When he did finally get himself up off the ground, his only words were, "This is the worst game night ever." Not yet willing to give up on game night, though, Pat went to retrieve a dining room chair to replace the exercise ball and ended up spilling his beer in the process. And just when he thought things couldn't get worse, the game started to freeze. After several attempts to fix it (by taking it out and blowing in it - we all remember the routine), Pat, completely defeated in all aspects of the word, finally called it quits on game night. I believe deep down he blames me for all of the negative events that took place this evening. After all, it was my bad attitude about Nintendo game night that "set the tone," as he said, for the rest of the evening.

When I think about tonight's events, once I'm able to stop laughing, I feel kind of bad for the 28 year old Pat who so desperately wanted to relive the glory days of eight year old Pat when the only worries in life were building teams for backyard football and winning Nintendo games. But that only lasts for a second before I start thinking about the exercise ball popping and him falling to the ground and then I start laughing again.

Tomorrow, I'm not sure which will be more bruised; Pat's back or his pride.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The best things in life

So I think God, Mother Earth, the Universe, or whatever you believe in, was trying to talk to me today. Tell me how weird this is:

I was leaving work today and was taking my time walking to my car. I stopped to read a bumper sticker that said, "The best things in life aren't things." I was repeating that quote to myself as I walked the rest of the way to my car.

Then, I get into my car and turn it on. The radio comes on automatically and, I kid you not, the first words I heard on the radio were, "The best things in life aren't things." It was a song called, I'll Be Waiting, by Michael Franti & SpearHead. I've never heard the song before and of all times for me to hear it, seconds after reading the exact same message on a bumper sticker! Seriously, someone or something was sending me a message! The message was received...

I feel like there is so much in my life that I have been taking for granted lately and this was my wake up call. I get upset easily about stupid things in life, especially when it comes to the traffic I face during my commute.

But because of this amazing message I received today, I am now feeling inspired to make a list of some of the truly important people, not things, in my life.

My husband
Our amazing family
My wonderful friends
Our nice neighbors
The awesome people I get to work with every day
The awesome kids I get to see at school every day

The list could go on and on but you get the idea. So thank you, Universe, for giving me this opportunity to sit back and think about all the people in my life that make me so blessed.

There's no "we" in guys night out

So last week, Pat called to tell me that his friend from college would be coming to Cleveland for work and would be staying with us for a night. I was really excited because I love visitors! Pat went on to say that he thought it would be fun if we went to Great Lakes Brewing Company for dinner when he's there. I got even more excited because I love going out to eat and we hardly ever go out to eat during the week! Somehow, though, the communication major misinterpreted the intention of the word "we."

"What time are we going out to eat?" I asked Pat. "Well," he replied with hesitation, "when I said 'we,' I actually meant just us guys. You know, a guy's thing." I tried to play it off like I was totally okay with that, "Oh, it's just a guys thing? Okay. No big deal." But deep down, it was a big deal. I felt an overwhelming sense of rejection.

So right now, they are out to eat and drinking Great Lakes beer while I am left here by myself, eating left over Chinese for dinner. And let's face it, Chinese is never as good the next day. I am also left alone with my thoughts, wondering when I went from being the "cool girlfriend" who could tag along with the guys, to the loser wife who is left at home to take care of the kids. And we don't even have any kids, which makes it even worse. All we have is a dog, who I obviously don't take good care of seeing as he was shredding paper within moments of their departure (you can read more about that here).

Maybe he didn't want me to go because it's a Monday night and he knows they would be watching and talking about a lot of football. Hey, I can talk and watch football, too. For at least 10 minutes, anyway, before I get bored. But I can still contribute to interesting conversations, though. We could talk about the weather, relive BG memories, talk about scrapbooking, etc.


UPDATE: The guys have been back from dinner for about thirty minutes now and all they are talking about is football, football and more football. I'm bored to tears. Just when I thought there was nothing about football left to discuss, they started talking about fantasy football. Fantasy football conversations then led to a griping session about people who plan weddings during football season. I interjected with my firm belief that weddings should always trump football. Always. They both strongly disagreed with me and suddenly I realized why I wasn't invited to dinner. And guess what? I think I'm okay with it (maybe?).

Monday, September 19, 2011

My dog ate your map

There has been a lot of speculation lately about whether or not my dog, Grady, has grown out of his "consumption phase" in which he swallows socks, underwear and all paper products. My response to this question is a very diplomatic one in which I just state facts: To the best of my knowledge, Grady has not consumed anything other than his dog food in X months. Prior to today, X meant about eight months.

I have been really careful with my response to this question because it has been too hard to tell if his eight month "remission," if you will, was a result of the fact that he has actually outgrown this bad habit or rather if it was a result of his owners doing a better job of keeping all temptations out of sight (and therefore, out of his stomach). I wanted to believe it was because he had outgrown it, but secretly, I think I knew he hadn't.

Tonight, unfortunately, Grady proved that my suspicion was correct; he has yet to outgrow this awful habit. When given the chance, he is unable to resist the temptation of consuming paper. Pat has a friend who is in town for a conference tomorrow and staying at our house tonight. When he arrived, we were reviewing his map and directions to get him to the conference tomorrow. A few minutes later, he and Pat left for dinner (I wasn't invited since it was "just the guys" - more on that in another post).

As I was sitting at the kitchen table eating my dinner of leftovers, by myself (and obviously not bitter about it), when I heard some paper ripping. I ran into the living room to find Grady destroying the directions for the conference tomorrow. As you can see by the image to your left, I caught him just in time to preserve most of the address (who needs a zip code anyway) and almost all of the map.

Grady knew as soon as I rounded the corner into the living room that he was in big trouble. He instantly went onto his back into his "submissive mode." I swear, I have never abused my animal but he sure acts like I do. He did, however, receive some verbal reprimands, but only an appropriate amount. After I got done telling him how bad he was, I told him to "go lay down" and he sprinted to the basement.

Based on the paper shreds I threw away, I think it's safe to say that Grady did not consume any of the paper he destroyed. But again, I'm not sure if it's because he has grown out of it or because he didn't have enough time. Maybe his MO is to rip the entire sheet to shreds and then consume it all at once. I don't really know. What I do know is that the next time someone asks me whether or not Grady has outgrown his "consumption phase," I have no choice but to either tell the truth or completely dodge the question. I'm leaning toward the latter... 

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'm not thinking babies, but everyone else seems to be

Since the day I turned 28 (on July 24), the topic of me having a baby has been quite popular among those I know, and even those I've never met before. I'm not sure what exactly happened, but something changed when I turned 28 and suddenly people seem very concerned about when I will start to make babies.

Have you seen those Arby's commercials where they have the big logo over their head with the caption, "I'm thinking Arbys"? I can't help but feel like I've been walking around with one of those over my head except it's a big egg with a caption that says "egg supply depleting rapidly" and some warning siren that goes along with it when I walk by.

Today, one of our faculty members came to visit at work with her one month old baby. I'm not going to lie, I do LOVE holding babies. I love the way the snuggle up to you, I love the way they smell and I love watching their facial expressions, trying to imagine what this world must look like to someone so small.

When I started holding the baby, there was no one in the faculty lounge but me and the mom. Within moments of the baby hand off, no less than five people came into the lounge (one of which I've never met before in my life) and every single one of them had a comment about me with the baby. "Wow, you look pretty comfortable with that baby." "She looks like a natural, doesn't she?" Oddly, the first person to make a comment was the man I've never met. How he even knows that I don't already have a child, beats the heck out of me.

So here is my question for you: Is there really such a thing as someone who "looks like a natural" while holding a baby, or is that just something people say to women who don't have children. Or maybe it's something people say to anyone who is holding a baby that isn't crying and doesn't look like they are in danger of dropping it.

And why do you think it's so important to people, including people I don't even know, that I have a baby soon? Is it simply because everyone, including me, likes holding babies so much so that they want people to keep having them and bringing them around so they can hold them? Or is it because in a world that can often be extremely negative and harsh, babies bring some joy and happiness?

I'm not even pregnant and yet, I can already envision these same people, even the guy I've never met before, coming up and rubbing my belly uninvited someday. Add that to the list of reasons why I'm not quite ready to have a child just yet.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never forgotten

I'm laying in bed feeling sorry for myself because I'm all alone while my husband is traveling for work. I've been on the verge of tears since I dropped him off at the airport tonight. Actually, given today being the 10th anniversary of the tragedies of September 11, 2001, I have been on the verge of tears all day.

I have cried during every 9/11 commercial, during the national anthem before the football game and every time I heard a tribute song played on the radio this weekend. It has been ten years but yet the sadness of that day is still so fresh. I keep thinking about all of the women who lost their husbands that day. How absolutely devastating it must be to find your soul mate, marry them and then lose them in such a tragic way.

When I put today into context, it's impossible to continue feeling sorry for myself when I know how truly blessed I really am. I am so very lucky to have found Pat, someone who completes me and makes me happier than I ever thought I could be. I am so blessed to have married him and after six years together, still enjoy every second I spend with him. I am so blessed to have someone I love so much and miss when we are apart. I am blessed to know that we will only be apart for a short time and that he will be coming back to me. I'm blessed to know that we still have the rest of our lives together.

It wasn't until this evening that I realized how much I have been taking him and what we have together for granted. I haven't been truly appreciating him and all of the wonderful things he does for me on a daily basis, just because he loves me. How selfish I am to not fully appreciate what I have, a love that was violently taken away from so many 10 years ago (and still is today for those serving our country over seas), until I'm lying here without him.

It's not that I'm incapable of being alone. It's just that life is and always will be so much better when Pat and I are together.

Thinking of all those affected by the tragedies of September 11 and all who have found their best friends and lost them. May we never forget what happened on that day or what (and who) we are so fortunate to still have.

Friday, September 02, 2011

A for effort, F for fail

I can't believe it is September already. Where oh where did the summer go? Given falls imminent arrival, I was very disheartened to go out to my "garden" tonight only to find that I still don't have any vegetables in my first attempt as a farmer.

Can someone please explain to me how I could grow up in a farm town and go to a high school with classes titled, "Future Farmers of America" and "drive your tractor to school day," and not be able to grow ONE tomato? Granted, I didn't ever take an FFA class or own a tractor, but I thought maybe by way of osmosis I would have inherited some of those farming skills. Hypothesis incorrect.

It all started when I decided to join up with Erica @ The Gritty Girl Blog for a zucchini growing contest. I thought it sounded like fun. It also sparked an interest in me to grow tomatoes, too. Unfortunately, I waited until the end of May to plant both my zucchini and tomato seeds.

Pat (and many others) told me over and over that it would be a lot easier to just go and buy tomato plants that have already matured and then plant them, or better yet, just go to the store and buy tomatoes that someone else grew. But I've never been someone that likes to make things easier on myself and it was VERY important to me (the stubborn person that I am) to be able to say that I grew them from "scratch."

There were a lot of different opportunities to win in the zucchini contest; most quantity of zucchini, biggest zucchini, and the most creative recipe using the zucchini. Unfortunately for me, to be eligible for any of the aforementioned categories, you must first be able to successfully grow at least one zucchini.

The contest officially ended on July 30, long before I even had a bloom. And here it is, September 2 and Labor Day weekend and still no sign of a zucchini or a tomato blossom. To add insult to injury, people continue to bring in their left over garden veggies to work for people to take off their hands. It must be nice to have an overwhelmingly large surplus of veggies that you just don't know what to do with them all.

As if that isn't bad enough, I can't even begin to tell you how much trash I have been talking throughout this gardening process. Note to self: use better judgement when thinking about bragging. Probably not appropriate to brag when trying something for the first time and/or before you have any signs that you will actually be successful.

First, I bragged about how many tomatoes I was going to have. I believe I even said, and I quote, "I'm going to have the most tomatoes in all of North Olmsted." And when people would laugh about how little my plants were in July when I should already be picking tomatoes from them, my comeback was, "You're going to be jealous when your tomatoes are all gone and mine are just starting to bloom." If only we had about two more months of summer, maybe that would prove to be true.

I also went around asking various people for zucchini recipes because I was so confident I would have more zucchini than I would know what to do with. I look forward for the followup questions from them about how the recipes turned out and what I ended up doing with my "zucchini surplus." At this point, I'm not above lying.

Pat, trying to comfort and console me, told me that he gives me an A for my effort. I practically slaved over those tomatoes all summer long. But an A for effort has gotten me a big fat 0 amount of fresh vegetables. He also tried to tell me that this is a learning process and that I can use what I've learned this summer to do better next year, yada yada yada.

That all went in one ear and out the other. Instead, I'm thinking about what I can replant my tomatoes in so I can bring them in our sun room and keep them warm until they blossom. Determined and persistent or ignorant and afraid to fail? It's a blurry line.

I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses, even though I totally am, but I don't think Mother Nature is completely innocent in all of this. She had a serious case of PMS this spring and just rained and rained and rained and it wasn't until the end of May that it was even close to being dry enough to plant anything. She's up there on my s#&t list.

Truthfully, though, I did learn a thing or two from this process. I learned that I need to plant my seeds MUCH sooner and that it's probably not best to even mention having a garden to anyone until after I've picked at least one vegetable from it. Here's to next year....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We have a mystery

My nephew Max loves to say, "We have a mystery" and walk around trying to solve mysteries; mysteries that he has created. On this Sunday morning, Pat and I woke up to a mystery of our own. We were out of town for most of the day yesterday and never checked our mail when we got back last night. When I checked it this morning, I was surprised to see an 8x8 thin box in our mailbox. It was obvious from the label that it was an ebay purchase. Knowing that I hadn't ordered anything on ebay and that Pat doesn't know how, I would have assumed it was a mistake except for the fact that it was clearly addressed to "Pat and Emily Robinson."

The mailing label on the box indicated that the item was purchased from an ebay store called Valley Village Collectibles in North Hollywood, California. When we opened the box we found a seven inch vinyl record, Eye for an Eye, recorded by Pat Robinson in 1984.

Unfortunately, we have no way of playing or listening to this album. I looked up the song on iTunes but couldn't find anything. When I googled it, I was able to find the lyrics to the song and a photo and biography of Pat Robinson. It's all quite interesting, but I still have no idea who purchased this vinyl for us and what exactly we should do with it.

So, as my nephew Max would say, "We have a mystery!" If only he could actually help us solve it. Unfortunately, his skills are more equipped to finding people hiding in closets or toys that he himself has hidden. I really want to figure out where it came from. If you know anything about the purchasing of this vinyl record, please let me know. And if you have any suggestions about what we should do with it, I welcome that information, too. Enjoy your Sunday and I will leave you with a few of Pat Robinson's Eye for an Eye lyrics:

She wants an eye for an eye
A kiss for a kiss
She's getting even 'cause he's been stealin'
An eye for an eye
A kiss for a kiss … she's gettin' even
A kiss for a kiss … she's gettin' even

Monday, August 15, 2011

What I'm reading: My Sister's Keeper

As you know, due to my addiction with the game Words with Friends, I haven't been reading as much as I would like to these days. But I'm happy to report that I did just finally finish the one and only book I've read this summer (how pathetic am I?).

I know I'm about six years late and a dollar short, but I finally read the book My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult and it was really good. I haven't read a Jodi Picoult book yet that I haven't loved. If by some slim chance you, too, have been living under a rock and haven't read the book yet, I highly recommend you do so!

As usual, I have not allowed myself to watch the movie, starring Cameron Diaz, which came out in 2009, until I read the book first. I always like reading the book first, a lesson learned by my mom very early in life. So now, I've read the book and I really want to watch the movie but after several failed attempts, I'm beginning to realize, things just aren't what they used to be when it comes to the world of movie watching.

In 2001, if I wanted to watch a movie, I would have walked a block from my dad's house in Shelby to the local video store, appropriately named Rack-of-Videos, found the movie on the wall, grabbed the little circle tag with it's name on it, taken it to the counter and they would have handed me the movie.

In 2011, there is not one video store in my current city of North Olmsted, so there goes the idea of walking up the block to rent the movie. As a result of their recent price increase and new subscription plans, we no longer have the option for DVD rentals by mail from Netflix (poop on you, Netflix). We stuck with the internet streaming plan because we use it much more than the video rentals. But just my luck, My Sister's Keeper isn't available to watch instantly through Netflix.

Next, I decided to try the on-demand movies from our digital cable. No luck. Turns out they only have really old movies or really new movies and nothing in between. After strike three, I decided to try the RedBox movie rentals that you see outside of gas stations and grocery stores. Strike four. They didn't have the movie available either.

What does a girl have to do to watch a movie these days?!?! So my options are, drive to one of my neighboring cities to the few Blockbuster movie rental stores that still exist, or just buy the freaking movie on amazon.com. I have to say, as hypocritical as it is since it's digital-movie watchers like me that have led to it's demise, I really miss the old days of walking around a video store and picking out movies to watch with your parents, friends, boyfriends or now, husband.

The truth is, though, I haven't stepped foot into a video rental store in three years (and then only because we were missing a Dexter DVD halfway through season 2 and like an addict needs drugs, we needed the disk IMMEDIATELY. If you've seen Dexter, you know what I'm talking about). Now I'm kind of wishing I had done my part to keep video rental stores in business.

After reading rave reviews about the book and movie over at Running In Stilettos, I just started reading the book The Help.  If I didn't have motivation to read it quickly before, the pressure to finish it as soon as possible is definitely on. Now that I know how challenging it might be to watch the movie after it's no longer playing in theaters, I must finish the book and go to the theaters, before it's too late. So why am I blogging when I should be reading?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How do you spell breakup?

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I'm really unhappy in my relationship with Words with Friends. Here are the reasons why I need to breakup with the game.

1. I don't even like scrabble. 
Six months ago if you were to ask me what my least favorite game was, I would have told you it was Scrabble.

2. I'm not good at it. 
At any given time I could be playing up to 10 games at once and very likely I could be losing every single one of them.

3. I have become obsessed and addicted to it.
I am spending WAY too much time playing this game. It is taking away from my Facebook creeping, Twitter stalking and most importantly, my summer reading which was pretty much non-existent this summer because of my addiction to this game.

4. It caused a huge argument between me and the husband
Okay, huge might be an exaggeration, but we did go to bed somewhat annoyed with each other over this stupid game. We do the play and pass version since he doesn't have an iPhone. He was getting sick of the fact that I always get to go first (it's my phone and I have to be the one to initiate games with him so it makes sense that the phone puts me first). Anyway, he decided to be fair to himself, he was going to pass on my first turn so that he could go first. I argued with him that this wasn't fair because I would then be trailing the entire game. He totally disagreed and still does. Please. Someone who plays this game, make him see that this isn't fair! I'm obviously not over it.

It's moments like this one that keep
me coming back for more.
5. My vocabulary isn't up to par
My friends used to think I was so smart because my vocabulary was pretty advanced at a young age. Unfortunately for me, it must have stopped progressing and I would even argue, it regressed during grad school when my brain became overpopulated with other information about ethnolinguistic vitality and correlation not equaling causality. Anyway, my point is, I'm not smart enough to play big, high-point earning words.

So why do I play this game, you might ask? Well, because I'm addicted to it and because I'm a social butterfly. Basically I'm just in it for the chat. And that small part of me that wants to win, but never does.

So yes, I should breakup with Words with Friends and get my life back. But as with many people in unhealthy relationships, I won't end it and I'll just keep complaining about all of the reasons why I should. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

My secret life

It's been a good run but I finally decided to come clean to the government about my secret life. You see, for the past two years and two months, I have been living under the dual identity of both Emily S and Emily R. I have to admit, it was invigorating.

But, all good things must come to an end. And after my computer at work got a virus this afternoon, I was convinced the government had figured me out. So I went straight to the social security office to come clean. When she asked me "what is the reason for your name change," I told her I had gotten married. When she smiled and said congratulations, I have to admit, I was embarrassed to tell her it had actually been over two years ago. She didn't seem phased. I'm sure she's seen it all.

There are several reasons why it took so long for me to finally make my name change official with the government (I changed my credit cards, license and other items immediately). First, hour limitations at the office. Before I started at my new job, I didn't have the ability to just go to the social security office between the hours of 8 and 4. So that covers my first year of marriage. As for the second year, I guess I was dragging my feet.

Hear me out ladies. Wasn't it at all difficult for you to let go of a name you have had your entire life? It's like giving up a piece of your identity. For me, it goes even a little bit deeper than that. I no longer had my brother in my family to carry on the Steele name and that really bothered me. It still does. Sunday marked 18 years since his death. It's really hard to believe.

Anyway, this disagreement caused a lot of turmoil in the Robinson household. I wanted to keep Steele on my social security card, as my middle name, and it really bothered Pat. I read an entire ethnography in grad school about marriage and names and how husbands and wives decide what they're going to do with their names.

Some women are so eager to take their husband's name that they only refer to themselves as Mrs. Patrick Robinson (gag). Others decided they weren't going to part with their maiden names and either kept it or hyphenated it. And in some cases, the man and woman combined their names to make up an entirely different last name. It was a very interesting book. Wish I could remember what it was called so I could pass it along.

I fall somewhere in between. I am super excited to have the same last name as Pat and I want to have the same last name as our kids (no, we're not expecting, I'm talking about the future). That being said, I just didn't want to see my maiden name disappear. After a lot of (heated) discussions, Pat and I finally came to an agreement about the name change. Granted, I could have just gone to the social security office and made my name whatever I wanted, and asked for forgiveness later, but that isn't how Pat and I operate. I wanted to keep Steele, but I wanted him to be okay with it. I explained my perspective again and he either got tired of arguing or finally saw things from my perspective.

So my new name is officially Emily L. S. Robinson. If you are going to address me, I wish you to only address me with my four name title, please. Of course I'm kidding. According to the government, I can still list my name as Emily L. Robinson and never have to list the Steele if I don't want to. But I can use it if I want to as my second middle name. I probably never will but that wasn't the point for me. I just wanted to know that I kept it, somewhere. Even if no one ever sees it. Maybe that's weird, but we already knew that.

I would love to hear your thoughts about changing your name and whether or not it was hard for you.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cooking machine

It's 10:52 PM and I'm just sitting down for the first time since I got off work at 4:30. I went straight to the grocery store, then to another grocery store, came home, unloaded the groceries and immediately started cooking. We are having a cookout tomorrow night with Pat's friends from out of town.

Tonight I made pasta salad, cole slaw, baked spaghetti and a chocolate chip brownie cheesecake. While I was cooking the night away, Pat was busy cleaning our house. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm not a great housekeeper. When I do clean, I do a pretty thorough job but I just don't clean nearly as often as I should. I'm soooo lucky to have a husband who helps me!

I've never made a cheesecake from scratch before, let alone a cheesecake with a brownie bottom. I will let you know how it turns out and if it's a recipe worth sharing, I will share it!

Speaking of recipes, I owe you the wonderful strawberry vinaigrette dressing recipe. Coming soon.

Hope you had a productive evening, too. Tomorrow is hump day. Woo hoo!!!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Taking on the world today

I'm not really taking on the world, per say, but I am taking on a huge website overhaul that is consuming my life at work (and home). It is t-minus 16 days until the launch of the new website at the school where I work and there is so much left to do. Already having one website overhaul under my belt at my previous job, I thought I was prepared for this challenge but at times, today being one of them, I feel way over my head and like I really am taking on the world.

Speaking of taking on the world, that is the title of the new OAR single off of their new album, King, which comes out TOMORROW! I'm so excited. I just pre-ordered it in hopes that when I wake up tomorrow morning, it will already be downloaded on my computer so that I can add it to my iPod and listen to it all day at work. If it all pans out, my Tuesday should be much less overwhelming and frustrating than my Monday.

You know what wasn't frustrating, though? My awesome weekend! Friday afternoon started with a quick (and free) manicure that I won at a work event back in May. My nails are nicely painted with a sparkly pink polish. It's a little Barbie-esq but I'm 100% okay with it.

Friday night we met some of Pat's friends at Wilburts on E. 9th for a few brewskies before the Indians game. One of Pat's friends, Eric, had just proposed to his girlfriend an hour before they met up with us. It was so fun to be a part of their engagement celebration! It wasn't fun when the Indians lost the game 12-0 but the fireworks show after was a-mazing and completely made up for their horrific display of baseball. It was also dollar dog night, which was a huge bonus in Pat's book. I didn't think the hot dogs were very good, but that didn't stop me from eating two of them. After the game we went to Flannery's on E. 4th to continue to the celebration with the newly engaged couple.

On Saturday Pat and I took Grady to the dog beach at the lake. I wore my new "water sneakers" and it was a much more pleasant experience then the last time I went there in flip flops. I had never walked on so many big, sharp, rocks before and felt like my feet were broken. Even though I wasn't comfortable with the stigma of being a water shoe owner, it was a necessity and I will never look back.

Saturday afternoon I headed to Huron to join my Grandma, Aunt Marlene, cousin Tyson, dad and nephew at a cottage on the beach for the rest of the weekend. It was so nice to spend time with family and it was really relaxing hanging out at the beach. And by relaxing I mean while I was floating on a raft I was being jumped on, splashed, flipped over, climbed on top of, etc. by two four year olds (my nephew and my cousin) but I had so much fun spending time with them!

When I got home last night, in the dark, I was SO excited to see our lamp post in the front yard working for the first time in two years. Pat and my father-in-law were working on some of our home projects while I was gone this weekend. They rodent-proofed our back deck and fixed my light. On Sunday, Pat re-stained our entire deck. Sounds like I need to go away more often, huh?

I didn't want to see it go, but all good things must come to an end. Another wonderful summer weekend in the books. Hope you had a great weekend, too!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Get in the kitchen and make me some: Stuffed Green Peppers

Stuffed Green Peppers

Prep Time: 30 Min

Cook Time: 30 Min

Ready In: 1 Hr

  • 6 green bell peppers
  • salt to taste
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed tomato soup
  • water as needed
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the seeds. Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain. Sprinkle salt and cheese inside each pepper, and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, saute beef, onions and 1 tsp. of Worcestershire sauce for 5 minutes, or until beef is browned. Drain off excess fat, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomatoes (with juice), rice and 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C). Stuff each pepper with the beef and rice mixture, and place peppers open side up in a baking dish. Sprinkle tops with cheese. In a medium bowl, combine tomato soup with just enough water to make the soup a gravy consistency. Pour over the peppers.
  4. Bake covered for 25 to 35 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly.

This was a regular meal in my house growing up and I probably haven't had them since I lived at home. I've been wanting to try the recipe for a long time and finally decided to do it! In hindsight, making this hot dish on a 95+ degree (heat advisory warning) day probably wasn't my best plan. But they were soooo good!

I made some very slight modifications to the recipe (my changes are reflected above). I don't cook with onions because I hate them. Normally I don't feel like anything is missing when I omit onions, but I felt like the meat was a little bland. Next time I plan to mix some of the Worcestershire sauce with the meat and maybe add some onion powder in place of the onions.

Other than that, I pretty much followed the directions exactly. Well I didn't completely follow the steps. As usual, I am incapable of following directions exactly and made some minor errors. I didn't get rid of the seeds. I overlooked that step when following along with the recipe and assumed they would come out in the boiling water. They didn't so please learn from my mistake! Luckily they kind of blended in with the rice and maybe they are filled with fiber or something.

Pat gave the meal a 10+! That's a record for me! I have to say, the leftovers were just as good, if not better than the meal was the first time around. We will definitely be making this meal again but I think we'll wait until the weather cools off a bit first.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

You'll probably notice that my style of writing has a slightly more mature and distinguished flare to it now that I'm 28 (that sounds old, right?). Even though my eggs are slowly rotting and my best baby making years may be behind me (according to my doctor), I still feel just as young as ever! Except for wanting to go to bed by 10:30 every night and barely being able to handle alcohol consumption anymore (minor details).

Anyway, my birthday weekend was absolutely wonderful and I couldn't have planned a more perfect way to say goodbye to 27 and hello to 28!

The weekend started with a date night to the movies with my husband. We decided to go see Horrible Bosses, us and everyone else on the west side of Cleveland, and unfortunately it was sold out. So we saw our second choice, Friends with Benefits. Probably goes without saying but when I say "our" second choice, of course I mean "my."

I really liked this movie and not just because Justin Timberlake is naked several times, although that was definitely a perk. Normally romantic comedies aren't that funny but this movie actually made Pat and I both laugh out loud on several occasions.

It also left me feeling overwhelmingly happy and grateful about the fact that my husband is truly my best friend. I give the movie two thumbs up!

On Saturday, Pat, my MIL Leslie and I went up to the lake to spend the day on the MacAskill's boat. The weather was looking pretty sketchy so no one really knew if we would get much boating action, but we actually got really lucky. We had just enough sunshine to spend a few hours out on the lake, soaking up the sun, lounging around in the big raft and enjoying some Summer Shandy (yum). We got back to the dock just before a big storm rolled in. The timing was perfect! Then we went to dinner where a live band was playing a lot of acoustic Sublime music. It was fun, easy listening music and a really nice dinner! Couldn't have asked for a better group of people to spend the day with!

By the time my actual birthday rolled around, at 12:14 AM on Sunday, July 24, I was already asleep. I guess I really am old, huh? On Sunday morning, I woke up to a surprise day that Pat had planned for me. I knew nothing except that we needed to leave our house by 9:45, that I shouldn't eat breakfast before we go and that I should dress comfortably. I am absolutely horrible with surprises. I love them, but I usually can't handle the suspense so I end up figuring out the surprise. Not this time. I was seriously clueless.

Our first stop was the 100th Bomb Group restaurant for a breakfast brunch buffet. Neither of us had been to this restaurant and wanted to try it, so Pat decided this would be a good time to check it out. I'm so glad we did because the food was amazing and the restaurant was really cool!

I could NOT believe our next stop. I was seriously in shock when Pat pulled into the mall parking lot. I think I even asked him if he was joking. Pat HATES shopping and I obviously love it. I'm always begging him to go with me so I can get his opinion on the clothes I try on before buying them; I'm very indecisive! So he took me to the mall for an afternoon of trying on clothes, his opinions and he was buying. His only stipulation was that he wanted to play angry birds on my phone while I tried clothes on and he would "try his hardest not to complain." And he didn't! He bought me a dress and an outfit for work! It was so nice!

Our third stop was the Wolf Creek Winery in Norton, Ohio. Pat packed a picnic basket full of cheese, crackers and pepperoni to go with the wine. The scenery was beautiful and it was such a nice afternoon. We ended up sampling almost every wine they had (they were only $.25 for each sample) and finally decided to buy a bottle of the apple wine. I had never had such a thing and it was delicious! Seriously like candy. Which is why I ended up drinking two bottles - I did share some. See, this old lady can still hold her own!

Our last stop was for a cookout at my MIL and FIL's house. Even though my brothers and sister-in-laws had all had a very busy weekend of summer games (somewhat of a beer olympics) and were extremely tired, they were all good sports and made my birthday evening so much fun! We ate, I drank more apple wine and then we played fun games. Of course I didn't win any of them, I guess that isn't changing with age, but I still had fun!

I feel like the luckiest girl in the world and had a more special birthday than I think I deserve! Here's to age 28 - the new 18! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thinking about today...

Exactly one year ago today, I woke up to a phone call from my mom and Mark telling me Mark's cancer was back. They said it was his worst re-occurrence yet. As always, Mark sounded extremely positive and hopeful and even said, "My time here is not done." I couldn't help but be sad for the rest of the day, even though they told me not to be.

Exactly six months ago today, Mark died. It's really hard to believe. When I think about the fact that it's been six months and how often I still miss him and cry, it makes me kind of embarrassed. Maybe I'm a slow griever? Or maybe I just truly appreciate what an amazing person I had in my life and know that he is worth missing!

Either way, I can't help but think about him and these "anniversaries" that fall on my birthday. Don't worry, though. I'm not sitting here having a pity party for myself! If my step-dad Mark taught me anything about life, he taught me that life is for the living and to live each day to the fullest. So that is what I plan to do.

My husband has a surprise day planned for me. I know nothing about what we're doing (which is absolutely torturing the planner in me! How am I supposed to know what to wear?). All I know is that we're leaving in 45 minutes, I can dress casual and comfortable and I'm not supposed to eat breakfast! I can't wait to to figure out what we're doing and spend the day with my amazing husband! I know for sure, that is what Mark would want.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Get in the kitchen and make me some: Brownie 'n Berries Dessert Pizza

Brownie 'n Berries Dessert Pizza

Prep Time: 20 Min

Cook Time: 20 Min

Ready In: 2 Hr 40 Min

  • 1 box Betty Crocker® brownie mix
  • Butter and eggs called for on brownie mix box
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup apple jelly
  1. Heat oven to 350°F (or 325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom only of 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray or shortening.
  2. In large bowl, stir brownie mix, butter and eggs until well blended. Spread in pan.
  3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out clean or almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over brownie base. Arrange berries over cream cheese mixture. Stir jelly until smooth; brush over berries. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled. Cut into wedges. Store covered in refrigerator.

This is the tasty little number I made for our 4th of July cookout. And I do mean tasty. I'm not even a huge dessert person and I couldn't stop eating it! I even ate it for breakfast the next day (hey, it's fruit!).

Our pizza pan has holes in it so I used my best judgement and decided it wouldn't be a good idea to pour brownie batter on it. I'm so smart, aren't I? Instead, I used two pie pans. I always seem to overcook my brownies so this time, I decided I would cook it for the minimum amount listed on the box and then take it out so the brownies would be nice and gooey. It worked and gooey they were, but not too gooey.

I didn't have any apple jelly and didn't think it would ever get eaten if I bought it so I decided to use strawberry jam instead. Rather than brushing the jelly over the fruit, I mixed it with the cream cheese frosting. Not only did this taste delicious, but it made the cream cheese frosting a little thinner and easier to spread on top of the brownies.

After letting the brownies cool for an hour or so, I tried to start frosting them and they started to crumble into the frosting so I knew they weren't cool enough. I put them in the refrigerator for another half an hour and by the time I took them out again, they frosted very easily.

I didn't use raspberries. For no particular reason other than I had already bought a ton of other fruit and food for our cookout and fruit is expensive so I was trying to save a little money. I don't think they were missed but I'm sure they would be good, too.

My final recommendation is that it might be easier to take the entire brownie mixture out of the pie pan before frosting. I had a lot of difficulty getting the pieces to come out of the pie pan and thought maybe if I would have done it before, it would have been easier. I took a knife and separated the brownie from the edges of the pie pan and this made it a little bit easier but they were still kind of stuck to the bottom of the pan.

All in all, this was a very easy recipe to make, it looked very festive for the holiday and it was absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself. :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Good times

I'm really late with this update, so I apologize. But I'm starting to operate under the, "better late than never," philosophy with my blog.

Last Wednesday, Pat and I went out to dinner at our favorite Angelo's pizza in Lakewood. I don't miss the annoying cops and frivolous traffic violations in Lakewood, but boy do I miss Angelo's pizza. It was our first time eating outside on their patio, too. Good eats. Good company. After dinner, we went to the Rock Hall to see the Fitz and the Tantrums perform live, outside as a part of the FREE Summer in the City Concert Series. It was a beautiful night in Cleveland and this group was just as good live as they are on their CD's. If you haven't heard the Fitz, listen to one of my favorite songs here. After the concert we went out for ice cream. Have I mentioned I LOVE summer?

Fitz and the Tantrums concert
Last weekend we went camping with my college roommies (minus Emily Tucker-Halm - WE MISSED YOU) at my dad and Jill's house. Yes, you read that right. I did say camping at my parents' house. Don't judge. They have 13 acres (even though we camp within a stone's throw away from their house). But it's free, we can be as loud as we want without worrying about disturbing other campers and as long as you're sleeping in a tent, I still think it's camping. Are you with me? The weekend was quite eventful. Within twenty minutes of being there Grady got kicked by the donkeys. I cried. He was fine and he learned a valuable lesson. We played games, went canoeing, made campfire meals and had a great time. Love my old roommies and wish we all saw each other more often.

Last night we met up with the Duffys and the Detwilers at Tommy's restaurant in North Ridgeville. The pizzas were DELICIOUS and they even had an entire page of gluten-free food for Julie-D! I can honestly say, when it comes to buffalo chicken pizza, I've never had better! And they love Jesus. (see sign below).

'Make no mistake Jesus Christ is Lord." Amen.
After dinner we went over to the Detwilers for some beers, Euchre and some interesting conversation about the Casey Anthony trial, the judicial system and politics. Don't worry, no beers were thrown or mean words exchanged. It was a fun night!

Julie-D and me!
Today we are off to Youngstown for the 1st Annual Stitle Pigroast where Pat can reconnect with some of his college roommates. It should be a good time, if I can avoid seeing the dead pig spinning around on a stick. I also found out yesterday that at the last pig roast he attended, Pat actually ate some of the brain matter of the pig. He didn't say whether he did it as a result of losing a bet or just because he was highly intoxicated. Either way, I threw up in my mouth when he told me. Gross.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Panties in a bunch

I don't even really like the word panties. Actually, I despise it. But yet, I still find myself using the phrase "don't get your panties in a bunch," when a situation warrants such a thing. I'm pretty sure I've said it to Pat, who doesn't even wear panties. Go figure.

Anyway, I bring this up because today, my panties are literally in a bunch. Not because I'm upset; my day has been quite pleasant, actually. Well, except for the fact that my panties are in a bunch.

The problem is, I'm wearing panties underwear that are a size too small for me and therefore they are cutting off my circulation. I remember back in the day when I could wear a size extra small - in everything, including my underwear. And by back in the day, I mean all the way back to high school and perhaps my freshman year of college. It was a sad day when I had to go up to a size small. As you can imagine, it was an even harder day when I realized that I should go up to a size medium. But I didn't.

Instead, I kept pretending that I could still fit into my size small underwear and refused to get rid of them. When I buy new underwear now, I will buy a medium. But I still can't bring myself to get rid of the smalls. And when your laundry isn't clean or is clean but isn't put away, which is the case right now (I'm REALLY bad about putting my clothes away - I have one flaw and now you've discovered it), you have to resort to some of the old underwear left in your drawer. And for me, every single pair of underwear left in my drawer are all size small.

Do you hold on to old underwear, too, or is it just me? If you get rid of them, what do you do? Throw them away? With old clothes, you can give them away to charity and feel somewhat good about it. With underwear, you just have to throw them away and that seems wasteful and weird. But I'm quite positive no one, no matter how poor they are, want my used underwear. Gross.

Of course all of the underwear my dog swallowed whole were my medium-sized pairs. Maybe I should start feeding him the smalls. That is one way to get rid of them.

Whats a girl to do? I guess I need some new panties underwear.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Get your powder on

So it’s summer and you want to dress accordingly for the season. You picture cute shorts and tank tops, right? Not for me. You see, I have a very difficult time finding shorts that are at a length appropriate for both my age and my thunder thighs. When did all of the shorts get so short? Or have they always been this short and it just didn’t bother me when I was skinny enough to wear them?

If I do find shorts that are the right length, they are usually made for older women who are comfortable pulling pants up to their belly buttons. I’m not quite there yet. Maybe someday I will be, but not yet. For these reasons, I just avoid shorts all together which leads me to wearing dresses, like I am today. Dresses are great except that your thighs rub together when you’re wearing them and if it’s hot, they get sweaty and sticky. And after going around all day with your legs rubbing together, you can be sure that you will end up with leg chafage (aka leg chaffing).

It’s been so long since I’ve had skinny legs that I can’t remember if this is problem for everyone or just for those of us with big thighs that rub up against each other when walking. So I must ask you, skinny legs people; do your thighs touch each other, or not? If not, that may be just the extra motivation that I need to get my butt (and thighs) into gear and get skinny again! If your answer is yes, you are skinny and your legs still rub against each other, then I guess we're all in this together.

It turns out, guys have this problem, too. For as long as I have known Pat, he has always carried around Gold Bond medicated powder in his golf bag. I’m pretty sure I used to make fun of him when he would tell me about powdering up in the parking lot before going golfing. Maybe I had skinnier legs then and just could not relate to leg chafage, but I can assure you, I no longer make fun of Pat for his powder use. In fact, I’ve jumped on board.

A few years ago, if you would have told me that by my 28th birthday I would be carrying around a travel size bottle of Gold Bond medicated powder in my purse, I never would have believed you. Reluctantly, I must admit, just three weeks shy of the big 2-8, that day has come. Not only do I carry it around in my purse, but I will not think twice about whipping it out in public and rubbing it on my thighs if necessary.

You have to admit, it's pretty cute!
A few weekends ago, while in Columbus for the bachelorette party, I had to powder up mid-walk to one of the bars. Granted, it was Comfest weekend so me putting powder on my legs seemed like nothing compared to the hippies walking around with painted boobs. And just today, I’ve had to powder up once already at work. It is now a part of my life and I've accepted it for what it is.

Once you're able to swallow your pride, or once you get leg chafage so bad that you can barely walk, whichever comes first, you, too, may want to consider going out and purchasing your own travel size bottle of Gold Bond medicated powder to keep in your purse. Go ahead, get your powder on. One day, you will thank me.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Happy Birthday, America!

I'm not sure how to even summarize this amazing weekend without writing a novel. Although, most of my blogs are novel length anyway so what's the difference? It was an amazing weekend. I love food, I love fun and I love the 4th of July, all of which made this weekend absolutely perfect!

I had the day off on Friday so I slept in a little, woke up and went straight to work. I was working on a very special surprise for my SIL and BIL, Traci & Russ, who told Pat and I recently that we are going to be aunt and uncle to their little Baby Tigue in January 2012! WOO HOO!!! So I wanted to make Traci a pregnancy scrapbook/journal that she could use throughout her pregnancy. My mission was to complete it before our cookout on Saturday so that I could give it to her. I finished the book and she loved it. Mission accomplished!

Pat wasn't fortunate enough to have Friday off of work so I drove to Elyria to meet him for lunch. Since we work over an hour away from each other, meeting for lunch is a very rare and special occasion. There is also a really yummy Thai restaurant there. I loved it!

We spent Friday night getting ready for the Robinson Third Annual 4th of July Cookout! I guess we've started a tradition! Great company, good food, 4th of July accessories, water balloon slingshot and a water balloon toss. It was so much fun! I'm not trying to brag, but I hit the human target right in the head with my water balloon (sorry, Mike). If you don't believe me, watch the video below and see for yourself.

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On Sunday I went to another fun cookout at my dad and Jill's house. There were more games, more water balloons more great friends and family and more great food! And at night, we rode in my Uncle Paul's new pink limousine to the top of a hill and watched 360 degrees of fireworks in 12 or 13 different cities, among over 40 Amish. After the fireworks show, 22 of the Amish kids piled into the limo for a ride home and I piled into the back of an Amish cart with my dad for my very first Amish buggy ride. It was such a neat night!

Monday was a much needed lazy day at the Robinson household and we didn't even leave our house until 5 PM when we took Grady to the metroparks (one of my favorite parts about living in Cleveland) for a nice walk/jog. That evening, much to Pat's chagrin, we went and watched the Westlake fireworks. I literally had to drag him to the fireworks. I remember 6 years ago on our very first 4th of July together, Pat was so eager to take me to the fireworks in Brunswick. Note to those who aren't married, once they have you legally, all romance goes out the window. I'm just kidding. Kind of.

Today, Pat had the day off work so I took a vacation day. We drove to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park - my first time there and went for a three mile walk. We then had a picnic, using our picnic basket that we got for our wedding two years ago for the very first time. It was so fun and perhaps, even slightly romantic. Disregard my previous claim that all romance is gone. AND, Pat even packed our lunches. Doesn't get much more romantic than that!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, too!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

What's in a nugget?

I’m kind of dorky in a lot of ways (you’re supposed to act surprised by this statement). And lately, one of those ways is my obsession with eating healthy - ignoring the fact that this week I dominated chili dogs and cheez its. I’m not saying it’s dorky to eat foods that are good for you, but I am saying that it’s dorky to get as excited as I do when I find healthy recipes and snacking alternatives that actually taste good.

You see, I do not like to work out. Actually, I despise it. Twenty minutes on a treadmill feels like an hour to me. And although I still try to work out a few times a week (I'm actually trying to run jog these days, a post on that soon), I never end up working out as much as I should. To make up for my inconsistent workouts, I have tried to introduce better eating habits to make sure I don’t add to the weight I gained in college and never really lost.

A year ago in January, I started counting calories. I never thought I could or would be one of those people but I finally decided I HAD to be one of those people. The days of coming home from high school and dipping my spoon first into peanut butter and then into ice cream and never gaining a pound, have long since passed. The days of eating an entire bag of popcorn by myself in college or going to Taco Bell or Andy’s Hot Dogs and dominating a “fourth” meal at the end of a night out really caught up with me. All of the sudden my metabolism really slowed down and everything I ate, went straight to my gut, butt and thighs - I might turn that into a catchy little tune. "My gut, my butt my butt my thighs - check it out." I have digressed.

So I started counting calories - only during the week, on the weekends I still allow myself to make bad decisions, and I forced my eating habits to change. I try to make smarter choices when I grocery shop and I try to make even smarter choices when I pack my lunch because even though my eating habits have changed, my desire to eat snacks (and lots of them) didn’t just disappear. So I try to find ways to snack but not gain weight (i.e. eat healthy snacks). Last week, I tried another new "snack." I can't believe I'm referring to yogurt as a snack. What has my life become? Where are the chips and dip, people?

Anyway, I was stocking up on our yogurt supply, a staple "snack" in the Robinson household, when I saw some prepackaged yogurt/granola paired together and a lightbulb went off; what a great idea to add something crunchy to your yogurt! But instead of granola (which may have at least had some hint of sugar or something that tastes good) I went straight to my trusted Kashi foods and found their seven-grain nugget cereal. Although I really wished I could have done a taste test before buying the huge box, I bought it anyway with plans to pair it with my yogurt "snacks" at work. The kashi nuggets are filled with lots of healthy goodness (7 g protein and 7 g of fiber in just half a cup) and really low on the bad stuff like sugar, cholesterol and carbs.

Blah, blah, blah the Kashi nuggets are good for you. But how do they taste? Since I bought a huge box of the small little nuggets, that will take me at least a year to finish, I was quite disappointed to find out that they taste awful. I've never tasted cardboard before but I bet it's quite similar in taste to the Kashi nuggets which is nothing. They taste like nothing. That being said, they do add a nice crisp texture to my yogurt and I do like that. Maybe I can just pretend that the crunchiness is coming from chips or something.

I also have to say that the nuggets/yogurt combo really fills you up fast! I could barely finish my blueberry yogurt today! It must be all that fibery goodness! That being said, the lack of sugar in these nuggets did not go unnoticed with me. Other than crunching in your mouth, the Kashi nuggets are not very appealing to the old taste buds. My new strategy is to let the nuggets soak in the yogurt for a bit before I eat them. This has helped. It gives them a chance to absorb some of the yogurt goodness and gives them some, albeit small, flavor.

I'm only on week #2 of this new "snack" and I have to tell you, it's getting easier to eat but it still doesn't look like I've had any. The box is completely full! There is absolutely no chance that Pat is going to go anywhere near this stuff. I had him try a few and he acted like it was poison. So it's up to me to finish it. I'm going to try and be creative and use the nuggets in stuffing and any other recipe I can think of. There will probably be several blogs devoted to "how I got rid of the nuggets."

They sure don't make eating healthy easy, do they?

Disclaimer: Kashi did not pay me to write this rave review of their product.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My weekend in review

Random thoughts after the bachelorette party weekend

Brow pencils are my enemy and I do not need to draw attention to the wild jungle that are my eyebrows

A bright orange bra was probably not my best choice since I could see it in every picture taken of me

My fun nights often include someone stepping on and injuring my toes

Choosing to wear flats instead of heels was the best decision ever

If I ever need a career change, I could always move to Columbus and paint womens boobs for Comfest

Taking shots and drinking mixed drinks all night was a bad choice since it is 11 pm on Sunday night and my stomach still isn't up to par

Speaking of par, putting golf on the tv when we got home was a great choice and put me right
to sleep for a much needed nap

I hope the bride felt better today than I did since she had drive back to Iowa!

Bring on August 27! Rupp wedding here we come!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lessons learned in NYC

Pat and I made it back from our awesome long weekend in NYC. It was Pat's first time in the big apple and although I have been there a handful of times, it was my first time there as an adult and on my own. So it was a new, exciting experience for both of us. And I learned quite a few things while I was there.

1. Comfort MUST trump fashion. I don't care how stupid your tennis shoes might look with your cute outfit, you will regret it if you spend the first night of your trip walking all around Manhattan in flip flops - even if they are your "most comfortable pair of flip flops." Trust me on this one.

2. The biggest giveaway that you're not a "local," besides carrying around cameras, binoculars, city maps and wearing I heart NYC clothes, is actually paying attention to traffic signals when crossing streets.

3. Pay attention to the traffic signals when crossing the streets. Don't follow the "locals" as they walk into the traffic. It's much safer to just wait for the light to change.

4. To quote my favorite movie, Elf; "The yellow ones don't stop." Beware of those crazy cab drivers. It doesn't matter if you have the walk symbol or not, they don't stop.

5. Riding in a taxi is a terrifying experience and not recommended on a full stomach. I do highly recommend it, however, if you need a reminder about how precious life really is.

6. NEVER, under any circumstances use the public restrooms in Central Park. Trust me when I say you are better off peeing your pants or buying something at a local store or restaurant just to be able to use their restroom. The experience is absolutely horrifying and something I don't wish on my worst enemy. Well, maybe my worst enemy, but no one else.

7. Don't travel to a big city to watch a Cleveland sports team. Even if that Cleveland sports team happens to be the best in the league at the time, you can watch them for much cheaper in Cleveland and experience a lot less humiliation when they lose 9-1 and you have to walk around the rest of the day in their city, wearing your Cleveland hat and t-shirt.

8. Eat whatever you want. I've never walked so much in my life!

9. In the "city that never sleeps," I was asleep every night around 10 PM. I've never walked so much in my life!

10. The train system is confusing. I can figure out colors and correspond directions based on the final destination of the train but when you mix in colors, numbers and letters...you've lost me. 

It's an amazing city, we had a fabulous time and I can't wait to go back!!!